I remember going to a concert with my sister in the Palacio de los Deportes in the eastern part of Mexico City. On our way, we where both packed like sardines on the bus, when she whispered at my ear “someone pinched my hips”, and I couldn’t do anything but burst into laughter. And I thought how unfair…women still have a long way to go. Many other women living in the crowded Mexico City have experienced these unpleasant trips in public transportation during rush hours. Physical contact is impossible to avoid and for years this situation has made pick-pocketing and finding uninvited groping hands all over you, a problem for many riders, especially women, like my sister and I. Only last year, according to statistics from the Office of Justice of the Federal District, 14 percent of stalkings and rapes against of women in Mexico City took place in public buses and those figures don’t fully reflect the problem.
Taking care of women’s needs, is an important goal of the RTP line of buses director Ariadna Montiel, who in response to multiple complaints about sexual harassment on public transportation started a program that runs buses only for women. These buses can be identified with a pink placard in their side and are intended to cover as many as 15 of the major routes in the city. At the program’s first day, each one of the “pink buses” transported 90 women and for the end of that week they were transporting 200. Many women endorse the idea, but many men do too, since they feel their daughters, mothers, and wives will be safer. As sad as it is, could this be a stepping stone for sound long-term solutions? Is this really the best way to deal with the problem? Or instead should we pursue campaigns to make society aware of this problem?