By Carla Samon Ros
Lima, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- As if the job of delivery rider were not stressful enough in terms of road hazards and the lack of a regular paycheck, the women who take on the task in Peru are also exposed to insults, threats, sexual harassment and violence.
The conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic have ushered in a golden age for delivery.
Here in the Peruvian capital, the sector is dominated by young men, most of them Venezuelan expats with little chance of finding formal employment.
For the 16 percent of Peru’s veritable army of delivery drivers who are female, it turns out that safely piloting a motorcycle or bike on the clogged streets of Lima is often easier than confronting prejudice.
With two years as a delivery rider under her belt, Katerine del Valle Figueroa knows the situation first hand.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan tells Efe that she “learned to cope” and not lose her temper over situations that made her blood boil in the beginning.
She recounts being menaced with a steel pipe by a doorman at a condominium building in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood who demanded that she move her motorcycle.
“There is a great deal of machismo. I have had many unpleasant experiences for being a woman. Because when I go sometimes with a (male) colleague, nobody says anything, but when I go alone …,” Del Valle says.
“They slam the door in your face, they’re rude, they insult you, they make passes,” she says before lifting her eyes to the sky and reciting the phrase she hears so often: “Venezuelan, go back to your country.”
While all delivery riders “are exposed to every kind of aggressiveness that can occur on the street” a female rider also faces sexual harassment, sociologist and labor researcher Alejandra Dinegro tells Efe.
Dinegro leads a group, the Peru Platforms Observatory, that monitors the app-oriented delivery sector.
The latest survey conducted by the observatory shows that 84 percent of Lima’s riders are male, 80 percent are Venezuelan and 86 percent are between the ages of 25 and 40.
A third of those who responded to the survey said they were university graduates. Another 23 percent reported having had some kind of technical training.
Though delivery riders have become “essential” workers in the pandemic, they remain almost entirely without labor rights, let alone protection from violence on the streets.
Employment in the Lima metropolitan area plunged 17 percent over the course of 2020, yet the number of delivery workers more than doubled to 46,000.
Peru’s INEI statistics agency estimates that delivery workers represent roughly 1.1 percent of the economically active population in the capital.
Median monthly earnings for delivery workers have fallen from 1,132 soles ($306) to 972 soles ($263) and 86 percent of the riders surveyed by Dinegro’s organization said that the level of abuse they experience has increased.
“Crime has grown quite a bit because they take advantage more as the streets are a little more empty,” rider Katerine Andrea Hernandez, 28, tells Efe.
Like Del Valle, Hernandez, who works 13 hours a day, seven days a week, belongs to several WhatsApp rider support groups where members share information about dangerous areas or hostile customers. EFE csr/dr