The #MeToo Movement has arrived in Mexico.
Last week, a young activist tweeted that an esteemed writer had beaten or raped more than 10 women, with her post inspiring hundreds of others to speak out about violence and harassment in their industries.
Ana G. González, a 29-year-old political communications consultant, tweeted on March 21 that Herson Barona had “beaten, manipulated, gaslighted, impregnated, and abandoned (on more than one occasion) more than 10 women.” While she didn’t experience the violence firsthand, she said that women had asked her to speak out on their behalf.
“I knew several women that were just too afraid and not ready to come forth, but allowed me to speak for them and name this person,” González told the New York Times.
Barona denied the accusations, saying “I understand that there is collective pain surrounding the real cases of so many beaten, raped and murdered women” and “unfortunately, in public scorn there is little space for discussion, clarity or conciliation.”
His response didn’t slow down the derision he, and others who have been recently been accused of gender violence and harassment, received on the social network, however.
Since González’s tweet, more allegations have followed under the hashtag #MeTooEscritores, where women are sharing their stories of abuse in film, academia, the nonprofit sector, business, law, theater, medicine, politics and more.
Some women, fearing a backlash from their jobs or their perpetrator, are speaking anonymously or not sharing their attacker’s name. But others, who shared details in their accounts, have caught the attention of the attorney general’s office in the state of Michoacán, which is investigating information published on social media by a network of journalists that “includes acts that Mexican laws consider as crimes.”
Last year, during the height of the #MeToo movement in the US, Mexican actress Karla Souza, famous for her role as Laurel Castillo on the US legal drama television series How to Get Away With Murder, disclosed that she was raped by a director while working in Mexico. She chose to not share the name of her aggressor, which incited skepticism and criticism from many, sending a message to those who might have wanted to open up about their experience with workplace violence or harassment that they, too, could risk similar reprisal.
“When you see how these women have been treated publicly, it makes perfect sense many victims want to protect themselves by staying anonymous,” González said. “Let’s just hope this time it will be different.”