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What is sexual harassment for Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno.
Lenin Moreno talking about his definition of sexual harassment. Photo: EFE

Ecuadorian President apologizes for saying women “only accuse ugly men” of harassment

President Lenin Moreno made the comments while speaking at an investor’s meeting in Ecuador’s largest city of Guayaquil. 

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Ladies brace yourselves, according to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno,  it’s a hard knock life for men out there, especially if they are “ugly.”

“Men are constantly subject to the danger of being accused of harassment,” said the president during an investor's meeting in the city of Guayaquil on Jan. 31, after claiming women only file harassment claims “when they come from an ugly person."

"I see women making harassment claims a lot of times, yes, it's good that they do that. But sometimes they only target those people who are ugly for harassment," Moreno said.

"If the person is attractive, based on the canons of society, [women] don't necessarily consider it harassment," he said

Moreno went on between the chuckles and applause of the predominantly male audience to include his own age bracket in the discussion, saying men his age "wouldn't even be accused of harassment, but rather rape," said the 66 year old. 

Later that day, he apologized on Twitter for how things were interpreted:

"In my comment about harassment, I never meant to minimize such a serious issue like violence or abuse. I apologize if that is how it was interpreted. I reject violence against women in all its forms!" he wrote.

But in a country where 6 out of 10 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 64 have experienced sexual violence, his remarks went viral. 

It prompted Quito’s Council for the Protection of Rights, one of Ecuador's main human rights watchdogs, to condemn Moreno's comments for "joking" about sexual harassment.

"A sort of 'joke' about sexual harassment, which came from the country's highest authority, exposes how terribly naturalized this sexist act - which affects nearly every woman in different places and of any age group -- is. Women are exposed to this type of violence regularly in educational centers, universities, workspaces, political organizations, public transportation, streets, plazas, etc. Maybe that's why it seems normal, tolerable and ridiculous," read the council's statement.

Despite the fact that Ecuador was praised, in 2016, for being the second-best country for gender equity in the region, a recent survey shows that, out of 20,000 households, 32,7% of women have suffered sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. 

The remarks come just two days after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) began hearings on Paola Guzmán’s case, to determine whether or not the Ecuadorian government failed to hold responsible a 65-year-old public school vice-principal for the rape of the 16-year-old Guzmán in 2002. She later committed suicide.

 

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