Fresh sexism sparks rape row

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Flickr by Chema Concellón

FURTHER controversy over the Spanish political establishment’s outdated views on women and sexual assault have been raised after comments made by a mayor to a radio station that seem to denigrate women’s accusations of rape.

Francisco Javier León de la Riva, the Partido Popular (PP) mayor of Valladolid in central Spain, has been forced to apologise for comments made to the Onda Cero radio station on Thursday about women falsely accusing men of rape. The mayor said that he would think twice about getting into a lift alone with a woman for fear of false cries of rape.

Referring to an unsolved case which occurred recently in his city, De la Riva wholeheartedly condemned all forms of violence, but said that it was impossible to station a police officer in every park, and that women should think carefully about where they go at 6 o’clock in the morning.

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He went on to say: “Sometimes it’s the other way around. Imagine you are in a lift with a girl who is out to get you. She rips off her bra or skirt and runs out screaming that you tried to assault her.”

Reaction to the mayor’s comments was fierce and immediate, with some taking to social media to demand his resignation. On Friday, the Valladolid’s town council issued a statement through Twitter, saying: “The mayor wishes to clarify his words which have been misinterpreted and taken out of context. He apologises for any offence caused.”

The row coincides with uproar over the government’s outdated advice to women on how to avoid becoming victims of rape. The Interior Ministry’s website advises, among other things, that women blow a whistle to call for help, and that they close the curtains when home alone.


The advice, which has reportedly not been updated for at least 10 years, is set to be reviewed and changed by the Interior Ministry, but Carmen Montón, the opposition PSOE party’s secretary for equality, has said that the continued gaffes show how old-fashioned and inherently sexist the government’s attitude towards women and sexual assault remains.

Montón took to Twitter to express her feelings on the matter, saying that this archaic attitude keeps women afraid of speaking out against sexual violence by laying the blame on them whilst leaving men free from responsibility.  


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