"Sometimes it's not just men's desire to abuse, but also the women's position to be abused," Pinera said, overturning the burden of responsibility on the victim.
"We need to punish the abuser, and we also need to tell the person abused that they cannot allow this to happen and that the whole of society will help and support them in denouncing these events and ensuring they don't happen again," he added.
The president’s comments soon sparked anger among women's rights groups.
"Blaming the victim of violence against women is intolerable, but even more so in the context of the Gabriela law," the Observatory Against Harassment Chile said in a statement.
"It's a statement of ignorance that violates women, especially the victims of violence."
Piñera’s made his remarks while presenting a new law that will broaden the meaning of femicide in the judicial system.
— Frente Feminista Convergencia Social (@FeministasCS)
March 2, 2020
An abused woman is NEVER responsible for the violence against her! NEVER. One week from March 8, we clearly cannot count on @sebastianpinera to defend our rights and a life free of violence, that's why #LaHuelgaFeministaVa (TheFeministStrikeGoesOn) #LeyGabriela (GabrielaLaw)
The 'Gabriela law' (Ley Gabriela), named after a young woman assassinated by her ex-boyfriend in 2018, expands punishment for culprits of gender-based violence. It sets sentences for femicide from 15 years to life.
It doesn’t any more concern only married couples or those living together but includes the murder of non-married partners. It also introduces further sanctions for the murder of, particularly vulnerable women.
The new law defines crimes against women as any that “represent a manifestation of hatred, contempt or abuse because of gender," and covers physical, sexual, economic, institutional, political and workplace violence.
Last November, a Chilean feminist collective -Las Tesis- created a feminist anthem called 'A rapist on your way' also known as “the rapist is you” to protest against “historic abuse suffered by women in a patriarchal system,” in Latin America, and in Chile in particular.
The song spread worldwide as it was heard in protests from London, Paris, Mexico City, to Bogota and Istanbul.
Chile’s government has been under fire in recent months over the extremely violent way in which protesters demanding social reforms were treated by the police and the army. Protesters reported the extensive use of kidnapping, torture, and sexual abuse against women in the South American country, as widely used measures of intimidation.