La Teatrista

guerillera de la cultura

Monday, July 17, 2006

It is 2006 Gentlemen: "Peru's female traffic cops face backlash" -AP

We are still having major issues with empowered women. Machismo is the often ignored disease in many cultures. This vile mentality towards women seems to be more difficult to outgrow than we like to think. Here in the U.S., traces of discrimination and the place of women in our society are enough to prove our slow progress.

Recent findings show women are still not paid equally as men for the same jobs. We still have "firsts" for women in government. We have ivy league heads making negative comments about female intelligence. I hear educated men using demeaning language to describe women. I see women allowing this behavior because they think men are incapable of knowing better. I see women compromise intelligence and self-empowerment to be with a man. I watched a music award show where a female recording artist upon winning an award exclaimed how hard it is to be taken seriously as a woman in the industry. Actresses still find it difficult to have long healthy careers because bodies and age are barriers. Media images are distortions of sexuality and beauty at the expense of the woman's form. While femicides are happening on our borders, we are still questioning the rights of our bodies.

If we are to evolve, we must thoroughly examine our perceptions, our language, our actions, and our thoughts. It is the only way to manifest the change needed to influence and hopefully aid those communities where women are still suffering from violence and discrimination. We are not tools. We are not meat. We are not punching bags. We are not holes waiting to be stuffed. We are not props. We are not property. We are not an inconvenience. It is time we grow up. Read on

Peru's female traffic cops face backlash

By CARLA SALAZAR, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jul 16, 12:19 PM ET


When traffic cop Maria Luisa Calderon ordered a taxi driver to move on as he picked up a passenger in heavy traffic, his reaction bordered on homicidal: He turned on his high beams and floored it, slamming her to the ground and ripping her face and ankle as he sped away.

It was typical of a macho backlash on Lima's streets, where most male traffic officers were replaced by women in the late 1990s in an effort to give law enforcement a kinder, gentler and less corrupt face.

Eighteen months after her brush with death, 29-year-old Calderon says her foot still swells up. "The gentleman got away," she said. "They never captured him because I couldn't get his license plate number."

The "gentleman"? Yes. The policewomen are trained to keep their cool, never pull a gun, and always address the driver as "el senor."

But it doesn't seem to be working. Eighty percent of the 405 incidents reported in the past two years have involved one of the capital's 1,031 female police, meaning roughly a third of them have been cursed, shoved, punched, dragged, run over or taken hostage by angry men. Cabbies and bus drivers are the worst offenders.

Lima isn't the only Latin American city to have tried using women to tame its wild drivers, based on studies concluding they are less likely to be corrupt. Mexico City attempted it and gave up.

In Lima, the change came with tough new rules that oblige policewomen to ticket drivers who don't buckle up and bus drivers who carry too many passengers.

The drivers say the cops are overzealous.

"There are infractions that the policewomen should overlook. They should listen to us and say to us, 'OK, don't let it happen again,' but they don't," complained Jaimi Lopez, a 54-year-old bus driver. "Right away, they ask for your license and registration and they hand you the ticket."

The police blame weak laws for the violence against them. A Lima driver, says Calderon, "can do to us whatever he likes and the laws don't back us up."

The maximum penalty for such offenses is two years' imprisonment, in a country that suspends all prison terms under four years and has no provision for increasing penalties for repeat offenders.

"What that means is that no one is doing time for these cases," said Lima's deputy transit police chief, Vicenzo Ieva.

The Interior Ministry proposed increasing the penalty more than a year ago, but Congress hasn't considered the bill yet.

Peruvians desperate for work rushed into the taxi and bus businesses with little training after Peru lowered used-vehicle import tariffs in 1991 to ease a transport shortage. Already sprawling, dirty and disorganized, Lima jammed up with tens of thousands of rogue cabs, aging microbuses and vans called "killer combis" because they run over so many pedestrians.

Now supply exceeds demand, and the pressure has pushed the drivers to new heights of road rage, according to a University of San Marcos study. It found that more than 40 percent of public transport drivers interviewed displayed anti-social, even psychopathic, tendencies.

"Run over a traffic policewoman — they don't care," said the study's author, psychologist Carlos Ponce, who interviewed 491 public transportation drivers and 249 regular motorists.

"The worst-behaved motorists are the taxi drivers, followed by the bus drivers and then us private motorists," Ponce added. "We aren't saints, and something needs to be done about it."

One other rule the policewomen are taught is never to climb into a "killer combi" lest the enraged driver abduct them.

Of 10 police abducted in 2004 and 2005, nine were women.

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