Protect Students from Sexual Harassment

Target: Ivan Flores, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile

Goal: Provide consistent definitions and punishments for sexual harassment at universities

A proposed bill would require state-supported institutions of higher education in Chile to come up with detailed protocols to respond to sexual harassment. Unless the universities adopt a specific definition of harassment and set up consistent punishments for harassers, they would risk losing both state accreditation and funding. The legislation was introduced with the help of the Chilean Network of Women Researchers (RedI), an advocacy group that promotes gender equality in science and research in the country.

A study conducted by Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research in 2017, found that at least 39% of students and 41% of academics reported encountering unwanted attention of a sexual nature. The new proposal lays out specific steps needed for higher education institutions to keep their accreditation and state funding, including protecting victims’ identities, preventing them from having direct contact with harassers, and providing suitable legal and psychological resources. The bill would extend to other forms of higher education supported by the state, including professional institutes and training programs for Chile’s police force.

According to RedI President Adriana Bastías, a biochemist at Chile’s Autonomous University in Providencia, the country’s laws shield employees of universities and other research institutes from sexual harassment, but students, postdoctoral scholars, and some others are left to fall through the cracks. Their cases cannot be taken to labor courts, and few institutions have actual procedures for dealing with sexual harassment on an internal level. Sign below to demand that students be protected from sexual harassers.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Flores,

Under a proposed bill, students that attend state-supported universities can be provided with a better response system when dealing with sexual harassment. According to a study conducted by the Center for Research on Education Policies and Practices, only around 12% of Chile’s state-accredited universities had protocols to handle sexual harassment towards students and postdocs, as of November 2017.

Despite the high number of universities trying to take steps in addressing the issue on campus since then, Leonardo Castillo Cárdenas, the new bill’s primary author, says their plans have been “inconsistent and have proven ineffective in deterring such behavior.” I urge you to show your support for this crucial measure, as students are at risk.

Sincerely,

[ Your Name Here ]

Photo Credit: Sydney Sims




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