After the appointment of Pedro Salmeron As Mexico’s ambassador to Panama, students and feminist organizations from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM) asked the federal government to reconsider the decision to prevent more women from being affected, since the historian has been singled out for sexual harassment.
However, they received a discouraging response from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who this week invalidated the claims by saying that public complaints were not enough to judge the accused.
“No one can be prosecuted if there is no process in accordance with the law, if there is no evidence (…) They have to present their complaints and go to the Public Ministry (MP) and with all the protection, point out what they suffered, suffered, and the competent authority must resolve, but not make summary judgments and more so when it comes to political matters, ”said the president in a morning conference.
One of the members of the platform Me too del ITAM differs from López Obrador’s position and stressed that “any victim who wants to tell their story in the way they decide to do it, is doing it in a formal way”.
“All the complaints serve to create this narrative that a person is really being violated. Nobody tells their story, even if they do it anonymously, to attract attention, people tell their story because they need to close cycles, assume and understand for themselves that is what happened”, he said in an interview for The financial.
Meanwhile, Leslie Jiménez, a specialist in criminal law, explained that maintaining the idea that only complaints filed with the MP are “formal” and “valid” discourages students who seek to tell and resolve some type of violence before their university, because they think that they will not obtain positive results.
“This type of message of ‘formal and legal complaints are only before the Public Ministry’, it is only perpetuating that gender units in schools continue to lose this important role, they are not recognized for their role, and that what is stated in the General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence and the mandates that come in this law is clearly distorted,” she said in an interview for The financial.
Currently, schools and workplaces have protocols for dealing with harassment complaints, as well as with gender units to investigate, provide accompaniment to the affected people and, where appropriate, apply administrative sanctions.
The main difference in this regard between a criminal complaint made before a Public Ministry and a complaint made before an administrative authority (such as a school) is that the first can punish with freedom (years in prison) and property (fines), while that the second can, for example, remove a teacher or worker or offer a public apology, he explained.
According to Me Too ITAM, the president’s statement revictimiza specifically to the students who have had to face a fateful process before daring to give testimony about their situation and at the same time, realizes the Ignorance of the authority regarding the violations suffered again by women who claim before instances such as the Public Ministry.
“Around any aggression that a woman suffers, there is a stigma in that it is his fault and he asked for it and when that stigma passes a little and the victim decides to go to court because there is a whole series of obstacles so that she does not follow the process, there is even intimidation by the perpetrators, ”explained the group.
Even if the complaints against Pedro Salmerón were filed with the Public Ministry, they could not succeed due to the lack of evidence to support them, which once again puts the victims at a disadvantage.
“One of the problems faced by women who are victims of stalking and harassment is that this type of abuse is committed in the private sphere and It’s hard to record through life the conversations you’re having, then ‘proving with evidence’, as it is normally said in the MPs, a harassing or abusive conduct, is obviously very difficult”, accused the group.
Universities and other schools have protocols and gender units to deal with this type of harassment or harassment precisely to provide prompt solutions to women who suffer violence. And the complaints presented to these organizations are as valid as those made before an MP.
“If we think that everything has to go through the MP, we continue to perpetuate that punitive idea that everything has to be sanctioned by a punitive authority, which is not the case (…) Those protocols and those units come precisely from higher legal instructions such as the General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence”, indicated the specialist.
The problem with replicating the idea that only complaints made to a MP by people who have experienced abuse or harassment count is that a message is sent that invalidates their experiences, re-victimizes them and makes them think that there is no solution. This in turn generates a new wall of impunityJimenez considered.
The victim’s agency must be respected, the specialist points out. In other words, people must count on the agency to decide if they only want to keep the complaint within the educational space, seeking a solution to the violence experienced, or if they want to take it to a criminal authority, he added.
The Pedro Salmeron case
Pedro Salmerón submitted his resignation to ITAM in April 2019, after the students were discreetly summoned by the then head of the Department of Political Science to present their complaints with the aim of preparing a file.
At that time, Salmerón “was the only subject teacher who taught History II, History of Mexico II, all the students had to go through their class and let’s say it was this corridor rumor in which we had it a little on the radar, ”Me Too ITAM detailed.
Despite the attempts to carry out this process with caution to avoid a backlash from the person involved, he submitted his resignation and the person in charge of the investigation terminated the case.
“The problem was that the professor found out that these inquiries were being made, he stopped going to class and later resigned from his position and never returned to ITAM. When the head of the department was asked what had happened, what he said was that they had not continued with the investigation because since the professor was no longer part of the community, then they were not going to follow up on the complaints,” commented the group.
Until now the case of Salmerón remains unpunished as well as others that have received legal attention, such as that of Félix Salgado Macedonio, who continues to hold public office despite accusations of sexual abuse against him.
“Ignoring the number of complaints that were made not only within ITAM but within UNAM and within Morena towards this person allows us to see that there is a very high level of compadrazgo with this person. We have also seen the case of Félix Salgado Macedonio, in which there were formal complaints and they were not taken sufficiently into account,” the group concluded.