Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has led the outrage against a group of male university students filmed chanting sexist and obscene abuse at female students in a neighbouring block. The footage, widely shared on social media, showed the men cheering and howling after one of them hurled insults at the women.
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It sparked an immediate backlash, with Rajoy tweeting that such behaviour was “unacceptable” and calling on universities to do more to stamp out sexism and harassment.
Education Minister Isabel Celaá also denounced the incident, saying it was “intolerable” for anyone to endure such treatment.
And in a show of solidarity with the women targeted by the abuse, several hundred students and staff at the University of Valencia held a protest on Wednesday evening.
The university’s authorities have launched an investigation and say they will take “appropriate measures” against those responsible.
This is not the first time that Spain’s universities have been embroiled in controversy over sexism and harassment.
Last year, a group of female students at the University of Santiago de Compostela complained of being regularly subjected to sexual comments and groping by their male classmates.
And in 2016, a study by the Spanish government found that nearly 60% of female university students had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their studies.
Such incidents are part of a wider problem of sexism and gender-based violence in Spain.
Last year, 48 women were killed by their partners or ex-partners, according to the Spanish government’s domestic violence Observatory.
And a recent poll found that nearly 80% of Spaniards believe sexism is a “serious” or “very serious” problem in the country.
This issue was brought into sharp focus last month when a group of men were filmed chanting sexist abuse at a female journalist during a football match.
The incident sparked a nationwide debate about gender-based violence and led to the arrests of several of the men involved.
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