Judges' criticism of a feminist cartoon ends in withdrawal: cancellation in the name of the victims?

Diana Raznovich's cartoons accompanied those who crossed the Palma Intermodal Station since March 14. They did it as an exhibition framed in the commemoration of March 8 and organized by the Institut Balear de la Dona with funds from the State Pact against Sexist Violence. That is why the logos of various public bodies, including the Ministry of Equality, appeared on all the posters and vignettes. The exhibition had been going on for several weeks when the dissemination on networks of one of the cartoons – that of a judge who does not believe a woman who denounces abuse – led all the judicial associations and representatives of other organizations and administrations to cry out heaven. The controversy and pressure finally made the Institut de la Dona withdraw that vignette from the exhibition, which will continue until the scheduled closing date, in two weeks.

The Professional Association of the Judiciary, the Francisco de Vitoria Judicial Association, Judges for Democracy and the Independent Judicial Forum launched a joint statement in which they showed their rejection for a ridicule of justice that they considered unfair and also counterproductive for the victims. . So did the Progressive Union of Prosecutors (UPF) and the General Council of the Judiciary itself. The Minister of Justice, Pilar Llop, recorded on Twitter her "energetic rejection of an unfair image of judges who fight against the #MachoViolence". Although no one explicitly asked for the removal of the vignette, the effect ended up being that. Diana Raznovich herself has denounced what she considers censorship.

The judge specializing in sexist violence and member of the Association of Women Judges, Lucía Avilés, considers "unfortunate" the way in which that vignette treats justice. Although it was not a proper institutional campaign, Avilés believes that it is an action by a public entity "that puts the ink on a part of the institutions, the justice system." "A part that obviously has a lot of weight and that on many occasions has a well-earned reputation for patriarchal justice, but in gender violence, perhaps it is not the most appropriate to show this image in this way. It is not a criticism of a specific action, Criticism is healthy and makes us move forward, but this is telling women who are experiencing this, especially people who are in doubt, that justice is ineffective, and that message is very harmful," she reflects.

That argument, that the vignette is a harmful message for women who suffer sexist violence, has been widely repeated in recent days. Laura Macaya, an expert in direct attention and design of public policies on gender-based violence, strongly rejects it: "The institutional violence of judges and legal operators is more than proven, therefore, that a campaign reflects what it does it is to expose something that is known by many people and even by the victims themselves: the lack of recognition of the victims, the humiliating treatment, institutional racism, the lack of protection of the "incorrect" victims, for example, not speaking to the assaulted woman when she is of a different cultural origin, or especially doubting her testimony or the continuity that the woman is going to give to the process.This is verified by the associations and people who accompany recovery processes from the field of guaranteeing rights: educators, lawyers, psychologists, etc".

Macaya recalls a report made by Amnesty International to evaluate the first ten years of operation of the Gender Violence Law in which the organization confirmed, for example, deficiencies in ex officio investigations, the lack of adequate protection for victims or prejudices they face when they decide to report.

The president of the Progressive Union of Prosecutors, Inés Herrero, insists that the cartoon's message was "very inappropriate." "When we talk about gender violence we talk about the lives of women and their sons and daughters. As what is at stake is so serious, it does not seem right to me to send a message that discredits a job and that can lead them not to report it", she adds. Herreros stresses that in recent years much progress has been made in the judicial and legislative spheres and that Spain is at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence, although there are aspects to "polish and improve". "There are many colleagues who do an exceptional job. What worries us is also what it can mean as a disincentive for women to report."

For feminist journalist June Fernández, the idea that this cartoon is inappropriate because it will undermine women's trust in justice is "perverse." "There are plenty of examples of sexist sentences and any lawyer, psychologist or specialized social worker or any victim can confirm that there are speeches that support that if sexist violence is not exercised in a physical and extreme way, it is very difficult to access protection mechanisms and find magistrates that they understand that this is violence," he explains. Specialized journalists, she points out, come across these types of stories very frequently.

The consequence of judicial discomfort and pressure was the withdrawal of the vignette. "It is the first time that a cartoon has been censored. There may have been people who have felt more or less affected by one cartoon or another, but they are nothing more than episodes that happen to all comedians. But they should censor a cartoon until the end. point of taking it down, it has surprised me a lot and it has hurt me", the author saidDiana Raznovich. The writer requested the restitution of her vignette and assured that she was referring to a judge, but not to all judges.

To the professor of Criminal Law at the Jaume I University, Marisa Cuerda Arnau, the withdrawal of the poster seems "nonsense". "As much as the Institut de la Dona is behind it, it is not an institutional advertising poster (in which case it would have to be qualified; above all, insofar as it can discourage denunciation). But it is an artistic exhibition, are they going to be Are these from now on the limits of humor and graphic art?" he asks.

"Many times the censorious attitude and attacks on freedom of expression are related to political correctness and feminists are accused of practicing that cancellation. What we see, however, is that in other sectors this attitude is much more limiting and in the end they monitor what is done from feminist positions and try to blow it up," argues June Fernández, who advocates the feminist premise that humor goes "from the bottom up in social hierarchies" and serves to appeal and challenge who has the power, also the symbolic power. "With what yardstick do we measure which jokes or vignettes are acceptable?" asks the journalist.

The question is for Raznovich's cartoon, Chris Rock's joke about Jada Pinkett's baldness and many other works and artistic expressions that may deserve social or collective reproach. In the case of the image exhibited in the Palma exhibition, the reproach ended in a withdrawal. Macaya says: "The cancellation for ideological reasons seems to me problematic for our critical, intellectual and democratic health, but it is also that in this case, it does not even seem to me that an opinion is censored, but rather the denunciation of a fact that is amply contrasted and objectified. That an institution does it seems to me an exercise in democratic health".

Inés Herreros defends that this vignette required clarification and that is why her organization came out to "tell the victims that we are there to help them, because where more lives are saved is in the sexist violence courts." The president of the Progressive Union of Prosecutors does not comment on her withdrawal, which the association did not request in the statement it published this week. She does believe that the official logos and the campaigns carried out under her protection should be aimed at "improving the quality of life of the victims" and this action, she considers, she did not do it.

Macaya has a very different opinion: "Justice and its representatives cannot become untouchable members of society, because that not only worsens our democracy but also leaves the field open to abuses of power, very frequent on the other hand, among the group of judges". The fact that the official logos of the organizations that financed the action appear in the vignette does not change the development, he believes. "The institutions should be able to intervene in some way in the face of abuses of power by the judiciary. In fact, on many occasions we find ourselves in situations of very serious institutional violence when we accompany women to the courts to denounce or follow a process of domestic violence. and in response to this, we sometimes report to municipal or regional political leaders, who do not have the means to intervene in the face of the untouchability of judges, something that may seem reasonable to me if their own control mechanisms worked and were accessible".

Judge Lucía Avilés acknowledges that at other times the judicial reaction has not been so forceful. It was not, for example, when Judge Ricardo González issued his dissenting opinion in the case of 'the herd', a text sprinkled with prejudices and statements against the victim. So, there was no consensus among the four associations of judges to issue a statement.

"It is true that it exudes a certain corporatism, but it still bothers me how this can affect a victim. We have to contextualize this, we are at a time when there is a denial of gender-based violence on the rise, and if a woman has doubts and is hearing that gender violence does not exist and sees an image like this, of a campaign paid for with public funds organized by a public entity... That is what worries me beyond the image of a judge", admits Avilés, that reflects on the extent to which women can or should be effectively 'protected' from this type of content.

June Fernández is skeptical about the extent to which what happened is more a concern for the image of the judiciary "than for the reality that women are telling us." "For feminism it is also a great contradiction: we firmly believe that violence must be denounced and that justice must be an element of reparation and be at our disposal, but that collides with the reality of many sentences and judges, who They're not a one-time thing."

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