Diario Feminista (The Feminist Daily) starts today a series of articles concerning the fierce law of silence existing in some Universities for decades now regarding sexual harassment which has never been publicly denounced or combated. Thus we join the majority of journalists who have acted with great professionalism and ethics in favour of the victims and those supporting them.

Omerta in Universities before sexual harassment

The prestigious weekly publication “Proceso” from Mexico has dared to bring to light the harassment that JdM has been exerting for some time now on students of a Masters’ degree, together with the evidence of the harassment received, through emails, messages and images.

The victims have explained, through said weekly publication, the harassment they suffered mainly thinking of the potential victims from other Universities or places where JdM participates, aware that public complaint is the best prevention tool for those who are likely to go through that horrible experience in the future. The evidence they provide makes clear that this professor feels unpunished so that he can repeat the kind of behaviour he previously carried out in other places – such as conditioning the review of his students’ theses as long as they deliver pictures of themselves in the nude.

Complaints presented in “Proceso” prove once more that the impunity that this professor enjoyed at the University of Barcelona has extremely serious international consequences due to the fact that he went on repeating identical behaviour in other universities and countries. After being accused and denounced of sexual harassment for a long time by victims of the University of Barcelona and people who have shown solidarity with them, he is now accused of identical behaviour from victims of the Anahuac University of Xalapa (Mexico), a University that is said to be linked to the Legionaries of Christ.

This unacceptable behaviour surely would not have happened without the current omerta in the University, with the complicities of powerful people that also occurred in this University in Mexico. In 2016, the fight against sexual harassment in Universities went across a historical moment, as the aforementioned professor re-joined the UB. At this precise point, the Victims of Gender Violence Solidarity Network in Universities, together with the Students’ Assemblies of several faculties in the UB, was promoting the film-forum (viewing and post-film discussion) on the documentary film The Hunting Ground, based on real cases of sexual abuse at University campuses in the United States. 

It was an enthusiastic context that regrettably came to a halt. Just at the point when the assemblies, together with the victims’ network, managed to collect over 1,000 signatures in less than three days, on the change.org platform, asking for the firing of this professor, some journalists who -according to them were well connected with officials from the UB-, launched a cruel attack on the victims of this professor’s harassment and on the research centre (CREA) that, as a matter of fact, were the first ones to file a complaint and also carried out the first investigations into gender violence in our universities.

The ferocious attacks of June 13th 2016, allegedly promoted by hidden interests, silenced any campaign against the professor denounced for sexual harassment. Not only silence was achieved, but surprisingly JdM got his job back at the University. The only achievement, though significant, was that he was banned from teaching, thus reducing the likelihood that he would harass other potential victims.

On June 13th, harassers and their supporters were very happy with the UB and with those unscrupulous journalists who spread slander and defamation. The campaign gave JdM such a sense of impunity that he allegedly behaved in the same manner at another University again.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of the journalists fortunately reacted with great professionalism and ethics in favour of the victims and those who supported them from the very beginning. The Universities themselves are now gradually starting to change. The UB’s current Rector’s team has completely broken with the philosophy that previous Rector’s teams adhered to. The transformation is already improving the lives of many people within the Universities, but as we see there is still a lot of work to be done and there is still much complicity that must be denounced and overcome.

* This article is part of Omerta in the University, a series of publications that address the fierce law of silence generated in some Universities concerning sexual harassment. 

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