Latin America & Caribbean

Sexual harassment: Cat-callers face fines in Buenos Aires

A protest against violence against women in Argentina, 25 November 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Argentina has seen stepped-up campaigning to stop violence against women

Forms of sexual harassment in public in the Argentine capital could now land perpetrators with a $60 (£47) fine.

Cat-calling and other types of harassment are seen as normal by some in Buenos Aires, but the city council voted on Wednesday to draw a line.

"Direct or indirect comments referring to a person's body" are among offences which could attract punishment.

Argentina has seen an increase in campaigning by women to change the way they are viewed by society.

The rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucia Perez in the city of Mar del Plata in October prompted widespread outrage.

Thousands of women marched in protest and many staged strikes.

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One of the main groups campaigning against violence against women in Argentina, NiUnaMenos (Not One Less), says a woman is killed there every 30 hours simply because of her sex.

Such crimes are seen by many as arising from cultural tolerance of disparaging attitudes to women, including casual harassment.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The rape and murder of Lucia Perez sparked protests across Latin America, including Mexico City

The Buenos Aires law against harassment takes in offences including making images of genitalia without consent, unwanted physical contact, pursuing someone, and public masturbation and indecent exposure.

Offenders could also be made to do community service. The law envisages public education campaigns, too, to try to change attitudes.

"Some forms of sexual harassment in public are accepted as a traditional part of our culture," said Pablo Ferreyra, the lawmaker behind the bill.

"That should not be a reason to tolerate this abuse."

President Mauricio Macri received relatives of victims of sexual violence at the presidential palace in November.

But he was himself criticised by his daughter after once suggesting that women liked to be told: "What a nice ass you have". He later apologised.

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