Almost two months after several former researchers accused Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos of sexual harassment, the academic has released an article where he apologizes generically for having had some "inappropriate" attitudes towards some women in the past. "I belong to a generation in which inappropriate, if not sexist, behavior, whether through coexistence or language, was accepted by society," he says in a text sent to several media, including EL PAÍS. "I recognize that at certain times I could have been the protagonist of some of these behaviors. In that sense, I regret that some people have suffered or felt discomfort and for this I owe them an explanation, "he adds. The tone of this article contrasts with that of his first response after the allegations were disseminated, where he accused one of the women of slandering and defaming him.
The sociologist admits to having starred in sexist attitudes, but denies having starred in the most serious ones attributed to him by some women such as the Argentine activist Moira Millán, who accused him of pounced on her in her apartment, or the Brazilian deputy Bella Gonçalves. "This recognition does not imply in any way that I assume the practice of the serious acts of which I am accused and I will never stop defending the dignity and integrity that I have built over more than 50 years," he says.
Five women have accused the former director of the Center for Social Studies in Coimbra, a highly regarded academic institution founded by de Sousa, of taking advantage of the position to sexually harass several researchers and a lecturer. The issue came to light in the book Sexual Misconduct in Academia: Informing an Ethics of Care in the University, edited by Routledge, where three former researchers, Lieselotte Viaene, Catarina Laranjeiro and Miye Nadya, published an article describing the environment of abuse of power and sexual harassment at CES. Although they did not specify the names of the institution or the sociologist, they were soon identified.
In addition to Moira Millán and Bella Gonçalves, three other women have contacted Brazilian lawyer Daniela Felix to report that they also suffered sexual harassment from the Portuguese professor. The Center for Social Studies of Coimbra provisionally removed Boaventura de Sousa from the position of director emeritus, as well as researcher Bruno Sena Martins, who could also be involved in cases of sexual harassment, according to the article by Viaene, Laranjeiro and Nadya.
In addition, the institution announced the creation of an independent commission to investigate the allegations, but, a month after they were made public, it was still not formalized. The director of the CES, António Sousa Ribeiro, acknowledged that the process was proving "much slower" than expected, in statements to the newspaper Público.
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