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    International Women's Day march | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 April 2019

Argentine Senate recognized sexual street harassment as a form of gender-based violence as sexual harassment in Buenos Aires increased by 50 percent in 2018.

The Argentine Senate unanimously approved a law that categorizes sexual street harassment as a form of gender-based violence.

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Lawmakers approved the modification of Law 26,485 of Comprehensive Protection to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women, to include sexual harassment that women face on the street.

The law says gender-based violence is anything "exercised against women by one or more persons, in public places such as public transport, parks or shopping centers, through verbal or non-verbal behaviors or expressions, with a sexual connotation." It is considered conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating environment. 

According to the law, the National Institute for Women must create a toll-free telephone line to provide support, information and assistance to sexual harassment victims, the Senate website reports.

In an effort to prevent and eliminate sexual violence, the Commission on Criminal Legislation within Congress also approved a project that seeks to fine people who commit sexual harassment in the streets.

The proposal, which will be debated in a future parliamentary session, punishes sexual harassment and proposes penalties ranging from one thousand to fifteen thousand Argentine pesos (US$23 to US$360).

If the victim is 18 years old or the perpetrator is a government official or a member of a security force, the fine increases to between five thousand and 30 thousand pesos (US$120 to US$715).

In Argentina, violence against women remains widespread. A recent study released by the Public Prosecutor's Office showed that in 2018 cases of street sexual harassment in the city of Buenos Aires increased by 50 percent and obscene exhibition rose by 40 percent.

According to the Argentine movement, Ni Una Menos, 100 percent of women living in Argentina have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent violations of human rights in the world and surveys show that sexual harassment is, in fact, the most common form of violence against women and girls. Across the world, an estimated one in three women will encounter physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).


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