EDUCATION

Universities and colleges taken by students in national feminist wave

SANTIAGO – Various universities in Chile have been occupied by mostly female students, following increasing denouncements of sexual harassment. Most Chilean women explain the current ´feminist wave´ as an answer to the macho culture in the country. Meanwhile, whole buildings have been occupied and classes have been suspended.

Many female students in Chile have gathered to demand a change in the institutional structure. They fight against sexist education and, most importantly, sexual harassment. Female students engaged in the struggle have gone on strike in different universities to force new policies that facilitate a more efficient response to sexual harassment cases. Besides, the rallies demand an end to male chauvinist education, which according to activists prevails in Chile, and open paths for women to improve higher education. Among universities that have joined the cause count the University of Chile, the Government and Public Administration College, the Southern University, and the Catholic University of Temuco.

According to University of Chile, the Humanities faculty of Southern University of Valdivia has been occupied for at least one month and other departments joined in. Banners on every building on campus read things like ‘We don’t want stalkers to be covered up anymore’ or ‘We are tired of violence against women.’The President of the Students Federation of the University of Chile FEUACH Valdivia Valentina Gatica pointed out: “Cases of sexual harassment have increased so much that unfortunately the accompanying regulation hasn’t been enough, and procedures have been irregular. Many students that have denounced someone for sexual harassment still have to see their aggressors at the university. On the other side there is an academic concealment in the university related to cases against functionaries.”

Due to pressure from the student federation, academics, and the labor union, the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso has established an institutional policy. The resolution includes discretion for the parties involved in denouncements, so the university can use its resources to arrive at a solution. It also contemplates a protocol to follow in harassment cases, as well as sensitization and prevention programs to avoid offenses. Any victim or witness of sexual harassment or any kind of gender discrimination and related violence can come forward even when the alleged deed took place before the promulgation of the resolution.

 

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