Dozens of feminists began this Saturday in the main cities of Morocco the distribution of thousands of whistles to women to fight against street harassment. The campaign "If they harass you, whistle" is inspired by the measure that was undertaken in 2016 by the mayor of Mexico D. F., Miguel Ángel Mancera, with the delivery of 15,000 whistles to prevent sexual attacks.
Mancera's initiative was criticized by several Mexican feminist associations. "Why do I have to hang a signal so they do not rape me? The one that decides not to take it is then giving free way so that they abuse it? ", Asked some women. Others claimed that the whistle was insulting and ineffective.
However, Aïcha Del-lero, one of the ten founders of the #masaktach feminist group (I do not shut up, in Arabic), believes that the campaign is useful for two reasons: "First, because this way we remember that there has been a law in Morocco against workplace harassment, which protects harassed women. It is true that until now the law has served little, which has not been applied yet. But we have to remind people that the law is there. And the second objective is to make women aware that the street also belongs to us, that we have the right to make noise. The idea is to bother a little, just as they bother us. The difference between Mexico and other initiatives that have taken place in countries like India is that it is not the authorities that distribute the whistles, but the groups of volunteers. "
On September 13 a law came into force in Morocco that provides for six months in jail for the harasser denounced and fines of between 10,000 and 30,000 dirhams (from 180 to 900 euros). The reality is that so far, the law has served little. Only one complaint has transpired in Fez and the woman ended up withdrawing it.
Loubna Rais, one of the feminists of #masaktach, approached this Saturday in Rabat a woman who was carrying her baby girl in a car and was accompanied by her husband.
– Do you know that harassment is illegal? No, right? Well, from now on the law protects it. And your daughter will also protect her in the future.
The lady accepted the whistle, but the husband alleged some objections:
-I am against a man insulting a woman on the street. But you have to stop in each case. Because one thing is to insult and another is to compliment. There are many women who are happy to be complimented. And it is absurd that the law punishes that.
-But we have to be very clear about the difference between making the court or seducing and harassing a woman- said Rais.
Amina, a woman in her 40s with a veil, welcomed the whistle but confessed her skepticism: "This is fine as a way to sensitize people. But I do not think I'm going to fix anything. You have to invest in education. And in getting people out of poverty. Men vent their anger and frustration with women, who are the weakest part of society. For my part, I believe that I will never use the whistle. I have other means to protect myself. The veil, of course. And also the way of dressing. If you look in Islam you can find the solution to this problem of harassment. "
Most of the women who offered the whistles accepted them in a very good mood. And they confessed that they felt harassed in the street. With any aspect and any age. And some rejected the whistle. "Two girls have told me that they like to be disturbed in the street," said Marwa Balagh, one of the volunteer feminists.
Perhaps, of the 15,000 whistles that began to be distributed on Saturday in the main cities of Morocco, very few will be used to denounce harassment. Most of them may end up as toys in the hands of children. But the #masaktach group, which began supporting Khadija, a 17-year-old teenager who claims to have been raped by 12 young people, has already made her message visible in society.
Loubna Rais believes that the existence of the law passed in September is key in the fight against harassment, despite the deficiencies of the norm itself. And for that reason they distribute next to the whistle a small sheet with the text of the norm written in Arabic and French. "The mentality of the people will never change if there is no law that protects against harassment," says Rais. "A few years ago no one in this country believed that people were going to put their seat belts in the car. There was a law that fined anyone who did not wear it and now no one questions that you have to put it on. "