Why Buenos Aires' new catcalling law is a victory for women everywhere.

A new law takes away creeps' free pass to catcall.

On April 2, 2015, Aixa Rizzo posted a video on YouTube about the lewd comments hurled at her on a daily basis.

The video went viral, with over half a million views in just a few days. Rizzo, a student from Buenos Aires, titled the video "Sexual harassment on the street: from a compliment to a violation."

In the video, she describes being subjected to incessant catcalls and lewd comments. She says the male construction workers working on a building near her home unapologetically catcalled her every day. It made her feel uncomfortable. It made her fear for her physical safety.


Rizzo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo by Natacha Pisarenko/AP.

One day, she recalls in the video, three of the men followed her. She heard one ask another where they should take her. She stood her ground, gripped her pepper spray, and let them have it once they were close enough. She was prepared to defend herself by whatever means necessary.

The men accused her of overreacting. When she later asked police to write a report, the officers suggested the men were simply giving her compliments. They agreed to write up the report only after she told them the explicit nature of their so-called compliments. Finally, after an agonizing month of consideration and denial from other people, she took her concerns public. Enough was enough.

Her words in the video struck an important chord that would lead to tangible change in the right direction in Bueno Aires.

After Rizzo's video went viral, city lawmaker Pablo Ferreyra was inspired to introduce legislation. He told BBC, "Some forms of sexual harassment in public are accepted as a traditional part of our culture. That should not be a reason to tolerate this abuse."

The law would impose a $60 fine to catcallers in Buenos Aires, including anyone who commented about or made reference to a woman's body parts.

Image via iStock.

In a bold and powerful move, the city council in Buenos Aires approved the anti-catcalling measure on Dec. 7, 2016.

After all that Rizzo and women like her have been through, it's a big deal. It means that her story and the stories of others have made a difference.

Violence against women is up in Argentina, with a 78% increase since 2008. The country passed a law against femicide in 2012, making domestic violence and honor killings illegal, but that was less than five years ago. There's still a long way to go when it comes to making things safer for women.

A 16-year-old girl's brutal rape and murder in October could have also played a part in pushing this important law forward: Lucía Pérez was drugged and raped by at least two men before being left at a hospital, where she died as a result of internal injuries. Her death sparked an outrage, and people took to the streets using the hashtag #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneLess).

The passage of this legislation means that people's collective voices were heard, and that's incredible.

In broader terms, this new law also makes it illegal in Buenos Aires to capture images of genitalia without consent, engage in unwanted physical contact, pursue someone, or engage in public masturbation or indecent exposure.

It's true it's only a fine for now; it's not enough just yet. But it is a step in the right direction. This law means men like the ones who made Rizzo feel unsafe might think twice before making lewd comments and threatening bodily harm.

Rizzo recognized this revolutionary legislation in a celebratory tweet, too:

It reads: "The law against sexual harassment on the street is a big step towards getting rid of violence against women from the start."

This new law sends a strong message to the world that this type of behavior is not OK.

It shows that there's hope for all of us: Things can change for the better when people stand up against injustices. That's always something worth celebrating.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

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The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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