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OP-ED | 15-12-2018 09:51

Editorial: Darthés, denunications and due process

The global #MeToo movement has found its domestic expression in #MiraComoNosPonemos, and it’s high time for a cultural eradication of all forms of violence against women.

There can be no doubt as to the biggest story of the week: the rape and sexual assault allegations against actor Juan Darthés and the subsequent fall-out from them. It would be remiss not to focus our editorial on these shocking claims. However, it is not our intention to go through the allegations and discuss their veracity. That is a subject for the courts and due legal process, which, with at least four accusations against Darthés, including those made by actress Thelma Fardín (who made her accusations public with the support of the women’s collective Actrices Argentinas on Tuesday), will certainly receive the attention it deserves.

The global #MeToo movement has found its domestic expression in #MiraComoNosPonemos, and it’s high time for a cultural eradication of all forms of violence against women. According to Actrices Argentinas, some two-thirds of female actors have suffered from abuse, sexual harassment or assault. In addition, the wage gap between men and women is a well documented feature of our society, as is the low percentage of women in leading positions in government, business, and civil society across the world. This, more generally, requires a serious reassessment and reorientation of our collective goals and aspirations if we are to ensure women are better represented in our society.

However, with all that said, it should also be stated that there is something distasteful about seeing an individual condemned on social media, without a right to due process in the courts. While it is important to note that proving a case of sexual abuse is difficult from a legal standpoint, particularly when the events occurred years ago and generally in the privacy of a bedroom or secluded location, it is equally valuable to err on the side of caution when dealing with a case involving sexual violence, particularly the professional media and commentators on social media. Making up one’s mind about the merits of an accusation of this seriousness based on Twitter comments is just not enough, nor is it right. Just like our institutions, the public and the media need to be trained to learn how to deal with cases of sexual harassment and gender violence.

And so finally, that brings us to change. Regardless of the events of the past week, it has long been evident that attitudes both in this country and beyond must undergo a serious and drastic transformation if women are to feel safe, protected and respected in this increasingly strained society of ours. The president made the first move this week, removing an advertising spot that featured Darthés and tweeting that his government would seek to eradicate all forms of violence against women. He was joined by figures such as María Eugenia Vidal and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.

However, as we all know, actions speak louder than words and the news. It was reported by Noticias on Thursday that the government would be cutting the budgets dedicated to gender and sexual violence in real terms. The National Institute for Women (INAM), the entity in charge of implementing those policies, was allocated only 234 million pesos in 2019, which is just an 11-percent increase over this year, with inflation expected to scratch 50 percent. This translates to just 11.36 pesos per women, which is less than the cheapest bus ticket. If we look a the National Plan to Eradicate Violence Against Women, meanwhile, the situation is even worse, with a 38-percent nominal reduction to 32 million pesos.

We have matured as society to the point where the debate about legalised abortion allowed for a proper discussion between different groups representing different viewpoints. At the same time, we have acknowledged that gender violence and the unequal treatment of men and women is something that must be overcome. All of this means we have to treat the issues with the same level of seriousness that allowed us to get here, which is much deeper than what social media and the 24-hour news cycle have become accustomed to doing.

Finally, it would be remiss not to praise the bravery of victims of sexual abuse who come forward. Society is in your debt.

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