Catalan Academy of Cinema detects 150 cases of sexual abuse or harassment in the industry

New department against sexual abuse will create a protocol of good practices and collect data to raise awareness of the problem

3 min
Presentation of the new department against abuses in audiovisual and performing arts

The Catalan Academy of Cinema announced at the last Gaudí Awards gala that it was creating a department for attention and prevention of abuse in the audiovisual and performing arts sector, the first initiative of its kind in Catalonia and Spain. Two months later, the Academy has presented the department and explained that this initiative comes after having detected approximately 150 cases of abuse committed in public and private institutions in the sector. Of these 150, less than 10% ended up in court.

"It is a pioneering initiative in the Spanish state and in the EU; only in the United Kingdom have there been similar actions," said the Academy director, Judith Colell. The department will work on three levels: the first will be aimed at detection; the second will focus on the creation of a protocol; and the third will be aimed at collecting data. The detection and assistance to victims will be carried out through an independent working group headed by lawyer Carla Vall and psychologist Carla Troncoso. This group will be completely independent from the Academy and will work in absolute confidentiality. "This is very necessary for the victims to feel comfortable. We are sure to come across cases of people close to us," Colell explains.

The department will accept anonymous complaints from both victims and witnesses and cases in which the statute of limitations has expired. Any resident in Catalonia who has worked or works in the performing arts will be able to access it. Complaints can be made by telephone or e-mail, and messages will be answered within 48 hours. First of all, victims will be offered a session to advise them on the different legal and psychological care options.

Putting the stigma on the aggressor

One of the department's goals is to get "fear to change sides" and "get stigma directed against aggressors and their accomplices," says Carla Vall. "We come from a small country, where we all know each other, and which has a tradition of silence. We have been taught that it is better to keep quiet and not stir things up too much. It is important to break the silence and overcome the social stigma that until now has been directed at victims," adds the lawyer.

In the next six months, the department will draw up a protocol of good practices for the prevention of abuse in the sector, which will include measures such as the figure of the privacy director or the obligation to contractually ask interpreters if they have a criminal record for sexual abuse or harassment. This protocol will be developed in collaboration with the Equality and Feminisms Department, as well as the Culture Department, the Association of Professional Actors and Directors of Catalonia and the Feminist Assembly for Culture. In addition, data on cases will be collected and will be segregated by variables of gender, age, race, religion, class and work environment. This will allow "a hidden reality become visible," Colell says.

The initiative was born as a result of the several cases of abuse and harassment in the performing arts made public in recent years, among which are the cases of the Institut del Teatre, the Aula de Teatre de Lleida, and the Col·legi del Teatre, all uncovered by ARA. "As a result of reported cases we note the fear and lack of protection in which victims find themselves. We find victims suffering from anxiety, who have left the profession or who needed to run away from the situations they suffered," explains the actress and Academy board member Maria Molins. The Academy anti-abuse department is supported by Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Provincial Council. The budget allocated to this service is €30,000.