Since July 2014, a number of women and children residing in Villa Portales, the neighborhood in Santiago, Chile where the telecentre is located, suffered a series of sexual assaults. The community members then started using the telecentre’s Facebook page to alert local authorities regarding these incidents.
The telecentre manager, in coordination with one of the city’s councilmen in charge of public safety, organized meetings with community members, municipal officers, and the local police to discuss the problem. The police subsequently gave lectures to members of the community on self-defense and investigative procedures but without the expected results.
A campaign was then launched through the telecentre’s Facebook page urging victims to come forward and file the corresponding complaints with the police and giving safety tips such as avoiding walking alone and also collaborating with neighbors in going to and from work or school.
Increased surveillance was also requested, but to no avail. The victims were then invited to a meeting to receive legal advice from a lawyer provided by the councilman. The idea of a lawsuit emerged and the lawyer offered to represent the victims at no cost. Once again, the Telecentre Villa Portales Facebook page became the channel of choice to call the affected persons to come to the telecentre and join in the collective complaint.
As a result, the Investigative Police Sex Crimes Division has investigated all cases and the situation has come to the attention of the Assistant Director of the Investigative Police, since many of the leads were obtained through the neighbors’ and the telecentre operator’s publications on Facebook.
The telecentre thus became the link between the affected community members, the Investigative Police, and the lawyer. It is where they come to tell their stories personally, or to send them to the corresponding departments through the telecentre’s email.
This shows the importance of the telecentre in Villa Portales, which has helped mobilize the local authorities and community members in the fight against sexual assault. Today, it is seen as a place of trust not only by community members but also by other institutions.
Article by: Mónica Benvenuto M., Administrator of Telecentro Villa Portales, Santiago, Chile
Translation by: Viviane Castro, Regional Community Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean