In light of a surge in street harassment and sexual assaults against women, Miguel Mancera, head of the government of Mexico City, announced that his administration will distribute whistles to women to alert bystanders and police of a possible threat.
The proposal quickly became the subject of ridicule on social media. The hashtag #ElPitoDeMancera became a trending topic. In Spanish, “pito” has a double meaning, suggesting a double entendre.
Andrea Noel, a North American journalist who was forced to flee Mexico after speaking out against street harassment, also criticized the announcement.
The proposal to distribute whistles was made Wednesday during a press conference to detail the results of the city administration's efforts to combat street harassment and sexual assaults against women.
Mancera said the whistle would serve as “a warning sign to society that something is happening there, that we can not be indifferent,” and that police would be trained to respond to the sound of a whistle.
The city government is calling on women to report incidents of sexual harassment or assault.
"Today Mexico City has endorsed this commitment to care for women, (this commitment to) protection, to action – precisely against violence to eradicate it, that would be the goal – also to raise awareness because it is clear that the existence of such manifestations, when present, damage the social fabric, public trust and coexistence," said Mancera.
He also announced that the city had opened a shelter for women survivors of human trafficking, the first of its kind in Mexico City.
Sexual assault and harassment is a common occurrence in Mexico, and the issue has gained prominence after a number of high-profile incidents.
Last Friday, a woman was able to chase down her attacker and cause him physical harm after he allegedly tried to assault her as she entered a subway. A video of the incident went viral and led to a debate online as to whether her response was appropriate, with most users of social media supporting her actions.
Previous administrations have attempted to address the issue by reserving subway cars exclusively for women and children. This measure has been criticized by some women's rights groups for “normalizing” sexual violence against women.