Sexual Harassment on Mexican TV Show Sparks Debate, Calls for Government Investigation

Television presenter Enrique Tovar harassing co-host Tania Reza in a video that has now gone viral. (YouTube, screenshot)
Television presenter Enrique Tovar harassing co-host Tania Reza in a video that has now gone viral. (YouTube, screenshot)

Top Story — A potentially pre-planned instance of sexual harassment between a male presenter and his female co-host on Mexican television last week has sparked a national debate on sexism and may now lead to a government investigation, according to the BBC.

The incident began when the variety show “A Toda Maquina” aired last Saturday. A video from the program, which has now gone viral, showed presenter Enrique Tovar lifting the skirt of his co-host, Tania Reza. He then continued to make sexual advances until he groped her breast. Initially Reza attempted to brush Tovar off, but eventually stormed off the set, saying, “I can’t work like this.” Tovar excused his co-host by turning to the camera and explaining she was “a bit hormonal.”

The interaction generated a public outcry and a national conversation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, with several prominent lawmakers condemning Tovar. But in a surprising twist of events, Televisa — the producers behind the show and the largest media company in Latin America — issued a statement explaining the interaction was a stunt pre-planned with the intention of making the video go viral. Televisa was unaware of the stunt in advance and fired both Reza and Tovar, who confirmed this version of events in a YouTube video.

But on Oct. 26, Reza posted a status on her Facebook, which has now received over 15,000 likes, saying that she was pressured by the network to corroborate their version of events, adding that Tovar’s actions were inappropriate.

While Tovar and Reza have both been rehired and will undergo obligatory sexual harassment training, Senator Angélica de la Peña told the BBC on Sunday that she has requested the government launch a formal investigation.

“The broadcaster refuses to recognize that there is bullying and sexual harassment amongst its employees,” said Peña, who is president of the Senate’s Human Rights Commission. “This case is a microcosm of the violence that women have to deal with in Mexico.”

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Pope Francis will visit Mexico for the first time in February 2016, when he is expected to address migration and the country’s high levels of violence, church officials announced on Sunday.
  • Mexico’s navy has rescued two Ecuadorean and two Colombian fisherman who have been lost at sea for 30 days after their boat ran out of fuel off the northern coast of Ecuador.

Caribbean

  • Investigators are looking into whether the wreckage found on Saturday off the coast of the Bahamas belongs to the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 crew members on board.
  • Haitians gathered in cemeteries across the country on Sunday to observe the Voodoo festival of the dead, a two-day event that coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, which are celebrated across Latin America.
  • Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro García Padilla on Friday signed an executive order banning plastic bag use from mid-2016 onwards, just days after legislators voted to reject an equivalent bill. The executive order was signed on the same day that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committed to helping Puerto Rico clean one of its most polluted waterways.

Central America

  • Speaking to a group of visitors from El Salvador on Friday, Pope Francis had harsh words for clergymen who denigrated the late Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero after his assassination in 1980, saying that, “He was defamed, slandered… even by his own brothers in the priesthood and the episcopate.”
  • Two suspected gang members in El Salvador died in a confrontation at a police station while four men, among whom were at least one Mara gang member and one minor, were found shot to death in the rural San Sebastian township, authorities announced on Friday.

Andes

  • The Peru-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a secretive Roman Catholic society prevalent throughout Latin America, is being investigated by the Vatican following accusations that the founder of the society sexually abused young recruits.
  • FARC rebels in Colombia indicated Sunday that the group’s unilateral ceasefire, which began in July and significantly lowered the country’s levels of violence, may be at risk due to ongoing military operations, and has called a meeting with international delegations to discuss the issue.
  • Colombia’s attorney general announced the capture and arrest of Ferney Tapasco, a fugitive former government official charged with the murder of the well-known journalist Orlando Sierra back in 2002.

Southern Cone

  • Brazilian authorities announced that they have contained forest fires that have destroyed half of the Arariboia indigenous reserve in the Amazon region after loggers and farmers allegedly set the fires last month in a bid to exploit the reserve’s natural resources.
  • Brazilian prosecutors have reached a settlement with individuals and companies allegedly involved in the so-called Carwash kickback scheme, who agreed to return close to $622 million to the government.
  • Under the urging of Chile’s Supreme Court President Sergio Muñoz, prosecutors are increasing their efforts to prosecute crimes committed during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 70s and 80s.
  • The first-ever World Indigenous Games, in which nearly 2,000 athletes from over two dozen countries participated, closed in Brazil on Saturday after significant praise from some, but criticism from other indigenous rights groups who argued the money spent on the games should have been used for indigenous education and health initiatives.

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