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‘Whistle at Women No More,’ Say Construction Workers in Peru

“At this construction site, we don't whistle at women and we are against sexual street hrrassment.” Image taken by the author.

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that a woman will avoid walking by a construction site, especially if she is on her own. If a woman dares to defy that generally accepted rule, she will most likely be on the receiving end of unpleasant, rude comments and whistling by the men working at the site.

But there's still a place for hope.

In Miraflores, a traditional iddle-class neighborhood in Peru's capital, Lima, where construction sites abound, a group of construction workers decided to show they think and act differently. And the response has been positive.

Another view of the poster. Image by the author.

An image of their sign was posted on Facebook, on the fanpage Ni una menos Perú (Not one woman less Peru), and has so far been shared over 300 times and has 3,300 likes; the comments on the platform have mostly been positive:

Lu Necochea gran comienzo …woww pero q esperanzador ya no tener q pasar mas acosos, buena iniciativaa

Lu Necochea Great start… wow, it's encouraging not having to endure any more harassment. Good initiative.

Gisella Laynes Que bueno … aplaudo esto por que a jno le da miedo pasar por estos sitios …

Gisella Laynes Good. I applaud that because I won't be afraid when I walk by these sites…

Adriana Lucia Me encanta! recuerdo que siempre teníamos que cruzar la pista sólo para no pasar por una construcción

Adriana Lucia I love it! I remember we always had to cross the street just to avoid walking by a construction site.

Some men posted messages trying to explain the phenomenon:

Tito Surf Rock PARA LOS TRABAJADORES DE CONSTRUCCIÓN CIVIL , QUE LA GRAN MAYORÍA POR PROVENIR DE HOGARES DISFUNCIONALES ( MUCHAS VECES NO CULPA DE ELLOS , PERO SI DE SUS PADRES IRRESPONSABLES ) […] FALTAN EL RESPETO A LAS MUJERES EN GENERAL ; OLVIDÁNDOSE QUE TODOS PROVENIMOS DE UNA MUJER ( MADRE ).

Tito Surf Rock Construction workers – most of whom come from dysfunctional homes (most of the time it's not their fault but their irresponsible parents’). […] disrespect women in general and forget we all come from a woman (mother).

Others were less sympathetic:

Eduardo Antonio Cesti Jaja pero cuando eyas acosan nadie dice nada.

Eduardo Antonio Cesti LOL! But when women are the ones who harass, no one says a single word.

Liler Vasquez Jajaja un poco más y prohíben que se.mire a las mujeres en la calle

Liler Vasquez LOL! Wait and see, it will soon be forbidden to watch women as they walk down the street.

Global Voices had a brief talk with Juan Enrique Huamaní, who is in charge of security issues at the construction site, and he told us:

En la construcción, nos dan charlas de cómo portarnos. Nos hacen ver que todos tenemos mamás, hijas, hermanas y que a ninguno le gustaría saber que les dicen groserías solamente por pasar por la calle. Por eso, tomamos conciencia y queremos que todos lo sepan.

Here at the construction site, we get lectured about how to behave ourselves. This makes us aware that we all have mothers, daughters, sisters, and no one here would be pleased to know that they have to endure obscenities merely by dint of walking by the street. That's why we want to raise awareness and let everybody know [how we feel and act].

This beacon of light comes amidst a hard moment for women's rights in Peru. One of the latest high-profile gender violence cases happened on February 27, 2017, when a 27-year old lawyer and mother of two, Evelyn Corahua Fabian, was strangled to death in her house by her former partner. A month earlier, she reported that he tried to strangle her, but the authorities dismissed her report. Sadly, femicides grew 13% in 2016 compared to 2015 when 95 women killed and 198 suffered injuries.

But while the country still struggles with gender-related violence, the construction workers in Miraflores are modeling an example of respect.

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