On September 15, Law No. 21.369 was published in the Official Gazette, which regulates sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination in the field of Higher Education. This responds to the different manifestations that have been carried out in recent years in the different houses of study throughout the country, in which protocols and sanctions were demanded in the face of these cases.
Article 1 of the law clearly establishes the objective of the law: to promote policies aimed at preventing, investigating, sanctioning and eradicating sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination; to protect and repair the victims; to establish safe environments free of sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination for all persons attending academic communities of higher education.
The law requires higher education institutions to have a comprehensive policy against sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination, which must contain a prevention model and a sanction model. In addition, it is required that all levels of the higher education institution participate in the drafting of the policy.
Although many universities and professional institutes have been adopting policies in case of sexual harassment, violence and discrimination, Law No. 21,369 establishes a series of requirements that the policies must contain, which will be subject to control by the authority, so in more than one case, it will imply modifying the existing policies.
For example, Article 5 of the law establishes the measures to be included in the prevention model: diagnosis of activities carried out within the respective institution that may imply a risk; set of measures aimed at preventing risks; awareness and information campaigns on human rights, sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination; training for staff and academics; incorporation of human rights, sexual harassment, gender violence and discrimination content in curricular plans; and inclusion of the policies in the induction process.
Higher education institutions will have until September 15, 2022 to implement the prevention models and sanction models and, once implemented, they will have 90 days -extendable for 30 days- to improve the models and staff orientation or training.
The Superintendence of Higher Education has been emphatic that it will sanction those schools that do not comply with a comprehensive policy against sexual harassment, violence and discrimination, as established by law, to such an extent that they will not be able to obtain institutional accreditation.
All of the above translates into an exhaustive process to be carried out by higher education institutions. The implementation of a prevention and sanction model in accordance with the requirements established in Law No. 21,369 aims to prevent, sanction and eradicate sexual harassment, gender violence and discrimination, and ensure safe environments.
This is possible to the extent that all the stages involved in this process are fulfilled, and understanding that the work does not end once the prevention and sanction models are drafted, but that the implementation, training and constant review and updating are key to ensure the objectives established by law.