Chilean campaigners call for gender equality on campus

Concerns over increasing accounts of alleged sexual violence spark protests

May 17, 2018

Thousands of university students and staff have occupied faculty buildings in Chile to protest against a lack of progress in tackling sexual inequality and alleged harassment on campus.

A wave of student-led strikes began in Chile last year after students complained that a series of reports of sexual harassment had not been taken seriously by university leaders or the authorities.

Since April this year, campaigners have again begun to stage mass demonstrations, this time calling for greater enforcement of anti-harassment policies to help protect women on campus.

More than 30 institutions are said to be involved in the “Feminist Takes” movement, putting pressure on university leaders to acknowledge the issue of gender violence and to review course programmes with the aim of including more female case studies and more literature written by women.

Campaigners argue that mandatory gender-equality training for students and staff could also help to promote equality and diversity in teaching and learning.

Danae Borax, a spokeswoman for the Faculty of Law at the University of Chile, told Telesur news that the movement had come as a response to increased concerns of incidents of physical, psychological and sexual violence on campus. “An assembly with more than 1,000 women shows that this is a real problem, and that is a concern,” she said.

According to the university, 15 per cent of students report that they have been subjected to sexual violence during their time at the institution, but students say that the number of unreported incidents is likely to be much higher.

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