Nine complaints of harassment at the Coimbra Center for Social Studies

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A group of women have submitted a dossier to the Independent Commission, created by the Center for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra, denouncing nine cases of harassment that have occurred in projects directed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

“On September 30, we presented a 213-page dossier to the Independent Commission to clarify situations of harassment at the CES, detailing a series of situations of violence that fall into the broad categories of sexual harassment, moral harassment and intellectual extraction,” said the women’s collective in a letter sent to the Lusa news agency.

Three female researchers who worked at the University of Coimbra’s CES denounced harassment in a chapter of the book entitled “Sexual Misconduct in Academia – Towards an Ethic of Care at the University”, which led to researchers Boaventura Sousa Santos and Bruno Sena Martins being suspended from all their positions at the institution.

The ESC eventually set up an Independent Commission, which began work on August 1 and stipulated that complaints of alleged harassment should be submitted by September 30.

According to the women’s collective, the nine complaints sent to the Independent Commission refer to “situations of harassment that occurred in activities, projects or research groups directed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos”, which includes situations of “moral and sexual harassment practiced by him, as well as by members of his team, to whom he delegated powers”.

They occurred “between 2000 and 2023” and concern nine women from Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Peru.

“The authors of the article in the book are not part of this group of women. These are nine other victims,” said the legal representative.

In the letter sent to Lusa, the women’s group explained that the accounts presented are partly based on “the memory of episodes that marked and traumatized” the alleged victims.

“We have asked the [Independent] Commission to work carefully to establish the facts and to take into account the vulnerability of the victims when it comes to accessing evidence. The burden of proof must not, under any circumstances, fall on the vulnerable parties, the victims.”

Despite admitting the difficulty in producing evidence, because “the CES did not promote safe and efficient investigation mechanisms at the time the harassment situations occurred”, these women assured that the dossier brings together “a reasonable set of evidentiary elements”.

“We have also indicated a wide range of witnesses who corroborate the accounts of all the victims. In addition, we will provide additional evidence at the time of the interview with the Commission.”

The women’s collective was also convinced that “there are more victims, more witnesses, more stories of violence”, which is why it considered it “essential that a space is kept open to welcome victims who may decide to file complaints at another time”.

“The systematic nature of the situations of abuse that we denounce points to the need for an Independent Commission that operates permanently for a period of time, promotes in-depth investigations and allows victims the possibility of denouncing and receiving help when they feel ready to do so.”

Contacted by Lusa, the Independent Commission said that its members “will refrain from making public statements during the course of the work and until its conclusions are presented”.

“The final results of the process will be made public by the end of 2023,” he concluded.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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