'Pico y género', a gender-based lockdown measure to control the spread of COVID-19, may strengthen the violence against transgender and intersexual people.
The measure seeks to have greater control over the exit to the streets of people during the quarantine, but it can increase transphobia. / Photo: Pexels – Anna Shvets
LatinAmerican Post | Ana María Betancourt
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Leer en español: ¿El ‘Pico y Género’ es una política de atención?
'Pico y género' or Decree 106 of 2020 is a gender-based lockdown measure proposed by Bogota´s major, Claudia Lopez, that started on April 13th and will last to May 10th. It has the goal of controlling the people´s circulation during the quarantine and the spread of the coronavirus all over the city. The Decree says that men can go out in odd days and women in even days, also it mentions that transgender people can go out the day in which they feel their gender identity is. The institution that will monitor the accomplishment of the Decree is the National Police of Colombia.
However, according to the numbers of Colombia Diversa, there have been 162 victims of the transgender community that have been suffering from violence from police officers in the last 5 years in the country.
“This policy is opening the opportunity for social cleansing with the excuse that we were not able to be in the street or that the police didn´t know which gender we were because of our hairstyle, our clothes, or our identification card (because there are some people that haven´t change their gender in the ID card yet for a lot of reasons)”, says Valeria Bonilla, an activist for diverse sexualities and identities.
Besides, the Community Trans Web said in a release, that “the sex separation in times of COVID-19 put our lives and security in danger. The violence and transphobia will increase because the Police still misunderstand that trans women are women and trans men are men and that our identity experiences are not inside the binary border of man/woman. With this measure, the District´s Administration is awarding the institution the role of gender police and discipliner”.
Also read: Does quarantine reinforce gender roles?
On the other hand, there´s the point of view of the virus spread and the restriction of the people that is not staying at home as much as is needed. “This measure is trying to avoid a big amount of people going out frequently as it is still happening right now, especially the asymptomatics ones, thus it delays the COVID-19 dispersion. Although, this is a laxer measure than the one of the identification cards restriction that the majors of Medellin or Cali are doing. The gender policy will create a lot of difficulties with the authorities because it will let the Police opine over the gender identities of the others”, says Maria Victoria Ovalle, an epidemiologist of the National Health Institute.
The measure has been implemented in Peru and Panama too. Xavier Sáez-Llorens, a Panamanian epidemiologist in charge of the COVID-19, said that this measure is not looking for a gender division, but for an “easiest way to maintain the control”.
The measure in Peru said specifically that men could go out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Women on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Sundays, no one could go out. This measure lasted one week because the government realized that the domestic duties are inequal and women have more responsibilities at home. This means that they may need more days than men. About this, the feminist organization, Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan, said publicly that “women were overburdened with laborers in the confinement and sanitary emergency context. As evidence, there are a lot of agglomerations of women in the essential supplies stores, putting their health at risk. The household and caring duties are the responsibility of men and women”.
To sum up, to this inequality context, there were some cases of violence against the trans community. The CIDH (International Commission of Humans Rights) has pronounced that: “The commission took notes with concern that the security forces detained trans women, in relation to the restriction in Peru, and they suffered from physical and verbal abuses for this public order agents. They were even obligated to repeat phrases that deny their self-perceived gender identity, like ‘I want to be a man’”.
Also, Barabara Delgado, a Peruvian trans woman, “was detained by the police and fined $50 for being outside on a day designated for women”, says Thomson Reuters Foundation. Even with the request that Martin Vizcarra, president of Peru, did to the police of avoiding harassment and discriminatory actions, transphobia acts keep happening.
Violent issues from the police against transgender and intersexual communities may be possible knowing that there´s a historical record of police violence against this communities. Thus, is this measure really trying to take care of the people?