The solidarity of Universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, Berkeley, the European Women’s’ Lobby, the End Rape on Campus victims’ network has been very active in signing documents against the victimization of GV victims at Spanish Universities and the second-order of sexual harassment against those who have supported us all the way. Without this active international solidarity (together with the one here from the Platform against Gender Violence and other entities, various groups as well as individuals), the sexual harassers Lobby in our Universities and their accomplices in the press and other similar organizations would have managed to destroy us as they have done until then with the victims, one by one.
When the defamations against CREA research centre for breaking the silence at the University began, prestigious academics across the world decided to take a stand and support CREA in their struggle. There were remarkable cases, like a Harvard professor who complained because he had not been warned and strongly asked to include his signature too. They were perfectly aware of what could happen when walls as strong as those of the feudal University, were broken. Universities in Europe, United States, South America and Australia joined the support and showed it at crucial moments carrying out specific actions.
The fact that the best Universities in the world did not hesitate to show solidarity and offer their support was possible, among other reasons, due to the excellence and prestige of the research centre, as well as by its firm stance against sexual harassment and abuse of power and, consequently, in favour of those who denounce them. They know and wish to know that, as in any hierarchical institution, sexual harassment can also occur in University, which is why they undertake the necessary steps to prevent it, respond to it and be able to combat it with the least impact for the victims and for those who support them. On the other hand, for a long time the Spanish University has tried to deny this reality, with statements such as “there is no sexual harassment here”. A clear example was when in an American University, at the time of recounting the sexual harassment that had been taking place for three decades at the University of Barcelona, the answer was: “But who on earth lets a person harass for thirty years without punishment?” Other than getting angry at the aggressor, they were angry as well at the ones who allowed them their impunity, having very clear, as they say that if there is one harasser only, it implies that there are also others covering for him. That protection, concerning the University of Barcelona meant a persecution of both victims and those who supported them. This is how silence has been maintained regarding internal sexual harassment and the complicity that covered it up.
The international solidarity campaign proved that breaking the silence at the University and the fact of suffering these accusations would not end up destroying the victims and their supporters: quite the opposite. The multiple ways of solidarity, signatures that were raised and messages from professionals and international institutions managed to counteract the attacks of a lobby that only wished to maintain and reproduce the prevailing power structures.
In 2009, during her visit to the University of Barcelona, Sarah Rankin, then director of the Office of Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment at Harvard University said: “future generations of students and faculty would undoubtedly have a very different experience thanks to the work of CREA”. She represented a University in which victims are both protected and supported, being aware of the difficulty involved in breaking the silence under a structure as powerful as the one operating in the University.