When the system fails in the face of harassment: "He asked for help and it did not arrive on time"

The suicide of a 20-year-old girl On December 28, the problem of harassment through the internet was once again visible, it has revealed the cracks in the victim protection system and has once again placed LGTBIphobia in the spotlight. The girl, who was studying FP and lived in the Jaen municipality of Navas de San Juan, had filed a complaint with the Civil Guard six months earlier and had come three other times to ask for help. The last, seven days before taking his life because he could no longer bear the suffering caused by the situation he was suffering.

In a note released on December 31 by the president of the Advisory Council of the International Human Rights Foundation (FIDH) in Jaén, Luis Francisco Sánchez, who has acted as spokesman for the family these days, it was explained that NLFP had been a victim of harassment and identity theft on social networks and web pages "in order to ridicule and humiliate her solely for loving, thinking and feeling differently from what society has been instilling in us since ancient times." In addition, defamatory posters had been distributed through the streets of the town where he lived, of about 4,500 inhabitants.

"She asked for help and knocked on the doors she had to knock on during all these months," laments Sánchez, in conversation with elDiario.es. It refers to the complaint that the young woman filed in June with the Civil Guard, where she has gone since then on three other occasions. "The path set by the law was followed and it was not arrived on time," he insists. According to Memory of the State Attorney General's Office 2020According to the latest data available, that year 1,247 legal proceedings were initiated for threats or coercion through information and communication technologies; 463 for harassment and 79 for degrading treatment in this area.

The head of the Human Rights Commission of the Malaga Bar Association, Charo Alises, explains that both the National Police and the Civil Guard are equipped with specialized bodies dedicated to computer crimes, with the ability to track and find out where this type comes from. of messages. In these cases, there are generally two problems. The first is, "not so much to find the origin of the message, but rather that the person who did it is in Spain", explains the lawyer. The other is that when dealing with a "laborious" job, the times get longer.

The director of the Olympe Lawyers office, Isaac Guijarro, points out that the usual procedure when filing a complaint is that it is turned over to the corresponding court and, due to the urgency, investigative steps begin to be taken. The Police or the Civil Guard can also begin to investigate, but point out that it is not usual. "This is entrenched," he says. In this sense, he regrets that "in justice he does not put a penny and, in the end, the files die of disgust on the table." For this reason, Guijarro affirms that six months - the time that passed since the young woman filed the complaint until she committed suicide - to investigate one of these crimes "is not at all time." "These processes can take up to two and a half years perfectly."

The professor of Social Psychology at the Complutense University of Madrid, Guillermo Fouce, points out that cases of cyberbullying are "a fine rain that erodes and generates an increasing effect; it becomes a ball that ends up passing over us, especially when we are helpless and we can do nothing or we can do very little ".

In his opinion, the lack or ignorance of adjusted protocols and the delay or difficulty in locating the origin of the aggression generates a "very important level of despair." Mainly, because on the internet the messages that are spread have a life of their own and identity theft continues to work after the complaint.

"The victim should be accompanied from an emotional point of view, not just a punitive one," says Fouce. An idea in which the president of the Association for Suicide Research, Prevention and Intervention (Aipis) and a psychologist specializing in clinical psychology, Javier Jiménez, agrees, who insists on the need to have "professional support as soon as harassment begins" , with psychologists specialized in these subjects. The spokesperson for Fundación Triángulo, Silvia Toscano, who attends to victims of violence due to LGTBIphobia, explains that these situations of harassment imply a decrease in the self-esteem and self-confidence of the person. "When situations arise where the mental health of the vast majority of society is damaged, as we have seen with the pandemic, if you add other factors, it can explode," he warns.

In the law of the Statute of the crime victim, the creation of Victims Assistance Offices was already being established, among whose functions was to provide emotional support or psychological assistance. Support services that are not conditioned on the prior presentation of a complaint. In other words, a person who has been the victim of a crime will not need to report it to receive help.

These offices They were already in force in some communities, such as Andalusia, before the law came into force, but since then "they have a more mandatory character, because many times people are helpless when something happens to them," explains Alises. "If you do not know your rights, you cannot exercise them, so it is important to have information when something like this happens to you," says the lawyer. For example, some victims of lgtbiphobia choose not to file a complaint because they do not want to be visible in the areas where they live, without knowing that they can go to any police station in another city to do so.

For Fundación Triángulo spokesperson, Silvia Tostado, it is "unforgivable" that a person who asks for help ends up committing suicide. "The police, judicial and protection system has to take account of it and put the appropriate springs so that this does not happen again," he demands while acknowledging that "it is a failure of the whole of society." "It happens as with crimes for gender violence -25% of women murdered by their partners or ex-partners in 2021 had reported-, there is still much to do and raise awareness ", compares Tostado.

Sánchez points out, in conversation with elDiario.es, that the family does not yet know "to what extent the sexual orientation of the young woman has had relevance, but affirms that" if at some point the investigation determines that it has had something to do with it, there will be than claiming 'enough is enough' ". "Unfortunately, LGTBIphobia kills and continues to kill," he denounces. In the last year, around a hundred people have passed through his delegation, of which about 65 did so after being victims of discrimination for this cause. "It is a huge problem and it happens every day in schools, institutes, at work, on social networks ...", he adds.

In the case of the young woman from Jaén, if the investigation determines who or who have been the perpetrators of the harassment, they could face an accusation of incitement to suicide. "Social networks have a greater impact and expansive power than real life and people have a false sense of impunity, which gives the supposed anonymity of the network, and they feel safer to say atrocities, because they believe that it will not nothing happen ", but "Cyberbullying can lead to a person committing suicide and that is a crime of inducing suicide, regardless of the reason for the bullying," explains Alises, who gives training in schools on bullying and always warns minors about this circumstance. According to a survey carried out by Save The Children of 400 young people from all over Spain, more than three quarters had suffered online violence during their childhood.

Toscano has also detected "a significant increase in attacks due to LGTBIphobia." She is dedicated to caring for people in the group and points out that in 80% of cases, victims suffer harassment in both the digital and physical environments. Precisely, that digital sphere so present in daily life, especially of adolescents and young adults, has caused violence to also spread to that environment. According to the last report on the evolution of hate crimes in Spain of the Ministry of the Interior, in 2019 1,706 cases were registered, 278 of them due to sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2020, the year of confinement and the most severe restrictions, they were 1,401 and 277 respectively. "If the attacks occurred only in physical space, there would have been a greater decline," Tostado reasons.

According to the sources consulted, the attacks and harassment situations reported are the tip of the iceberg of violence against the LGBTI community in Spain. According to the calculations of Fundación Triángulo, based on the data of the Prosecutor's Office and the people they serve, only about 18% denounce. "In the rest of the cases there are complaints before the associations, but not with the police and it is essential that this change, because otherwise we do not have the tools to demand that specific measures or programs of attention to victims be put in place," he claims.

The causes for which these crimes, harassment or assaults are underreported are multifactorial. "In many cases there is mistrust in the formal reporting system. In addition, filing a complaint implies a public coming out of the closet, when there are people who, due to their social, family or work reality, do not live it openly. And then, de Somehow, reporting is a revictimization, by putting on the table that a part of you is susceptible to being hated, which is something that is not easy to handle, "explains Tostado.

The Navas de San Juan City Council has convened this Friday a concentration of support for the young woman's family and from the Geen LGTBIQ platform in Jaén they ask the population to "become aware because diversity makes us human" and "we all have a responsibility in this type of outcome ". The girl's family claims, in Sánchez's words, that "beyond the need for technical means, which are necessary, and the saturation of telematics research teams, the important thing is that society becomes aware that the networks misused with an instrument of torture that, sometimes, do a lot of damage ".


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