Jimena Gibertoni: Suing the City of Buenos Aires for failing to prevent Sexual Harassment
Jimena Gibertoni, the co-founder of “Red de Abogadas Feministas” (Feminist Lawyers Network) or RAF in Argentina is leading a novel precedent that will change accountability and responsibility of public institution to prevent, eradicate and punish sexual harassment in civil service. She is taking a case against the City of Buenos Aires, for physical abuse and sexual harassment committed by a person in a position of authority, against women who were his subordinates.
The perpetrator was convicted. The state passed a protocol of action and took measures to strengthen support for survivors. Yet, Jimena pursued a case, stating justice was not reasonably satisfied.
Learn more about how she built a case from the ground up, how she engaged with key actors, and responded to the state’s claims.
The State said they did everything they could to safeguard people from sexual harassment. How do you respond to that?
Sexual harassment was being committed openly. The survivors were terminated from their work. All the mechanisms failed at the moment. So something happened. I have to interrogate what happened; either an action or inaction.
What did you want the State to do?
We do not believe that punishment is the solution. We want a profound change and sometimes a profound change requires this kind of petition and movements, to change the reality that is being created everyday. We want to show the government that there are other ways to manage this situation and it is essential for us. But it can only be solved when there is comprehension of the culture and environments for women in our country.
How do you engage with the state, if you are also holding them to account?
We try not to push at the first moment. We wait for the right moment. We also research our judges. We check their political orientation. We have to understand them because they are the deciders.
What is your main tip for others wanting to embark on something similar?
Make a group of advocates who have the same concerns and values. If you have a good team to work with; if you study the cases and the law; even if you have no precedent, if you look at other countries' movements and jurisprudence, you will do a good job. Don’t be frightened. You may not know how to start. Others may say no. You will always have the NO. But you have to try for the YES.
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