SANTIAGO – The Senate has approved a bill to punish sexual harassment at universities.Universities will now have to create new policies to prevent, investigate, and punish sexual harassment. Those that don’t comply with the new bill within one year will not be eligible for accreditation.
With 26 votes in favor, one against, and one abstention, the Senate approved a bill that seeks to prevent, investigate, and punish sexual harassment in college contexts.
The senators who introduced the bill were Ximena Órdenes, Isabel Allende, Yasna Provoste, Ena Von Baer, Carlos Montes, Juan Pablo Letelier, Ricardo Lagos, and Jorge Pizarro.
The bill provides that universities will also have to create policies against gender discrimination and measures that protect and help victims recover from such discrimination. One of the bill’s primary goals is to promote gender equality and respect among peers, professors, and university employees, and to create safe spaces free of violence, harrassment, and discrimination.
The bill defines sexual harassment as any action or behavior of a sexual nature or connotation – whether it be physical, verbal, or otherwise; and in-person, virtual or, otherwise – that is unwanted or unconsented to by the person who receives it, and that infringes on a person’s dignity, right of equality, freedom, or physical, sexual, psychic, or emotional integrity, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or humilliating environment, or that can threaten, damage, or have an impact on the person’s opportunities, material conditions, or work or academic performance, and whether or not the behavior or situation is isolated or repetitive.
Institutions will have one year after the bill is published to create and implement comprehensive measures to comply. If institutions fail to comply by the deadline they will lose academic accreditation.
One of the organizations that pushed the initiative was the Investigators Network Association, which tweeted about the bill being approved, thanking everyone who was supportive of the idea.
Now that the Senate has approved the bill, all that’s left is for President Sebastián Piñera to promulgate it.
Javiera is from Santiago de Chile, she is studying journalism at Universidad de Chile, since 2017 and doing her internship at Chile Today.