23/02/2021

Breaking the silence on abuse

2 min
A group of students protesting against Ollé and the direction of IT
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The publication by ARA of an exhaustive investigation into sexual harassment and abuse of power at the Institut del Teatre has had its first consequence on Monday: one of the professors singled out, Joan Ollé, has been removed from teaching for the duration of the internal investigation announced by the Institut. This was also the demand of the hundred students who yesterday demonstrated in the school's atrium to denounce the situations experienced by students and also demand accountability from the management team.

In the hours following the publication of the news, the avalanche of new witnesses and the wave of solidarity with the complainants shows that we are only at the tip of the iceberg of behaviour that until recently was considered normal but that has caused lasting consequences in many of the victims. In this sense, the publication of the news serves to break the silence and encourage victims to lose their fear of denouncing and explaining their experiences, and it could all result in a real #MeToo of the Catalan theatre.

We must be clear, however, that abuses in the environment of the Institut del Teatre are especially serious because they occur in an educational institution with very young students, but that these behaviours can occur in any area where there are hierarchies (abuse of power) and a sense of impunity. So far, ARA has uncovered cases in the field of sport, the Church, politics and theatre, but we could certainly find them at universities, the media or in any field of work. The important thing is that fear is shed and victims see that, if they decide to take the step of making their case public, they will not be ignored, but quite the opposite.

In the case of the Institut del Teatre it is particularly significant that no one, or almost no one, has questioned the victims' statements or the rigour of the journalists who signed the report, Albert Llimós and Núria Juanico. Surely a few years ago things would have been very different and the version of the complainants would have been publicly discussed. In fact, in some cases this is still the case, but slowly but surely we are witnessing, before our eyes, a very profound social change in which, above all, women have begun a process of empowerment that involves breaking down the walls of silence that surround men who spuriously use their small or large share of power.

The fact that this Monday's demonstration saw boys and girls united in protest is also great news. It means that the new sensitivity about harassment and abuse is shared (in fact, there are also men who have suffered it), and that the new generations are united in this fight. Even so, there is still a long way to go, there are still many sombre areas where victims still do not dare to raise their voices, impenetrable sectors where the old macho power dynamics still dominate. These walls, however, will slowly crack. Have no doubt about it.

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