04 Jun 2019

Revenge porn leads to suicide in Spain

When videos of a sexual nature began circulating among her co-workers at a Spanish auto plant, the 32-year-old mother of two sought help from the human resources department, which responded that they couldn't help because "it's a private matter."

Editorial Team
Jessica Sirotin NewsMavens, Europe
Revenge porn leads to suicide in Spain - NewsMavens
Man with phone, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Veronica, 32 years old and a mother of two, killed herself on May 25 in northeast Madrid following a month of intense harrassment as her co-workers passed around intimate videos of her. While at first only a limited number had access to the videos, the number of watchers soon ballooned to 200 of the company's more than 2,500 employees. And Veronica was aware of the growing number of views, as curious employees sought her out to see her in person. 

"It makes me sick to think what a person must be going through to decide they no longer want to go on living,” said one worker Iveco factory in Madrid. “Was there nobody to tell her that it would be all right, to take the sting out of the situation? Was she really that alone?” 

It is unclear who released these videos this time. Veronica had experienced public humiliation when a former boyfriend released the same videos 5 years ago, before she was married, but she had dealt with it then and managed to put a stop to it. 

This time, though, things got worse.

When she sought help from the head of human resources she was able to provide the name of her harasser (and co-worker) but they refused to help her, claiming that it was a "private matter".

She was offered a transfer or sick leave, but, according to her union, the company's response was insufficient.

Revenge porn has surfaced as a problem in Spain over recent years, as the criminal legislation strives to keep up with society's changing expectations of how women should be protected from harrasment and violence. 

Details from the story:

  • The police are investigating the incident, and Veronica's father has taken legal action. 
  • Additionally, the case is under investigation by the Spanish Data Protection Agencyto determine whether there was a breach of privacy laws.
  • There has also been talk of a work inspection to determine whether this was a violation of gender equality legislation and occupational hazard prevention laws.
  • Feminist groups in Madrid staged protests at Plaza de los Cubos, with signs reading “accomplices.” Asked who these accomplices one protester replied: “Whoever sent it, whoever shared it, whoever saw it and did nothing, and whoever knew about it and also did nothing.”
  • Since the Monday after the suicide, a group of employees has been congregating outside the front door to show their dismay, and to ask that people refrain from “criminalizing” the entire staff. They are mostly male.
  • On January 22 2015, the Spanish Penal Code was amended to include charges for revenge porn. 
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