Gender equality

Spanish #MeToo movement demands justice for victims of sexual abuse

Women’s group Pandora’s Box calls for an end to impunity in sexual harassment cases

Women from the anti-sexual harassment group Pandora’s Box outside the Reina Sofìa museum in Madrid.
Women from the anti-sexual harassment group Pandora’s Box outside the Reina Sofìa museum in Madrid.ÁLVARO GARCÍA

Pandora’s Box, the Spanish women’s group fashioned after the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, has called upon state institutions to do more to stop sexual abuse. Speaking on Tuesday outside the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, the group, which is made up of 3,000 women who work in the arts, warned that acts of assault “repeatedly happen” while the aggressors are protected.

We stand together side by side as a heterogeneous and community group Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box accused state institutions of acting “complicity” to protect abusers and creating “a structure that allows violence to continue,” the group read aloud in a press release

“It is not possible to transform reality without recognizing what is happening,” the group added.

Members of the group, pandoras as they like to call themselves, demanded institutions to establish “protocols, pacts and agreements to protect life and enable women to grow with dignity and freedom.”

The public appeal comes as part of a broader campaign to support Carmen Tomé, a dancer who says she was sexually abused during an art showcase last year. Tomé has accused curator Javier Duero of groping her in the bathroom of the cultural center Las Cigarreras in Alicante, where he had been invited to take part in artistic workshops.

Tomé was one of the dozens of women from Pandora’s Box to appear at Tuesday’s press conference. The organization, which communicates via a private Facebook forum, refused to take questions, arguing press inquiries must be put past its 3,000 members so that it can present responses that the entire group agrees with. The group added that it is still in the formation stage and continuing to collect and share experiences of sexual abuse, intimidation and sexism. It is also still looking for teaching and legal tools to stop gender violence against women.

“The pandoras hold out our hand and we open our circle to women of all identities so that they can have our support, and we theirs’. So that we can continue to grow and know that we are not alone. We weren’t before but now we know it and we are not going to forget it,” they read from the press release.

Pandora’s Box is made up of 3,000 Spanish women who work in the arts

Given Pandora’s Box refused to take questions it is not known whether their Facebook forum is open to any woman who wants to participate. The organization, however, placed great emphasis on protecting the “sisterhood” between women, describing it a connection that goes beyond shared place and friendship: “We stand together side by side as a heterogeneous and community group to weave networks that remind us we are not alone.” Pandora’s Box will not allow women to be sidelined or made invisible, the group said, adding that perpetrators of sexual harassment should be on alert.

The pandoras also demanded that action be taken to ensure accusations of sexual violence are not ignored. If not, they said, perpetrators can “continue exercising both the power and the privileges of their professional positions.”

Pandora’s Box thanked the people who paved the way for the women’s fight and those who continue to lead it, ending with the global slogan against gender violence: “For those who are not here, for those who are, for those who are to come, not one less.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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