Javier León de la Riva, mayor of the Spanish city of Valladolid, told national radio station Onda Cero that rape allegations should be scrutinized and that he would “feel uneasy” about being alone with a woman in a lift in case she wrongly accused him of rape.
“Imagine you get into a lift and there’s a girl trying to get it on with you. She gets in the lift with you, takes off her bra and skirt, and then runs out screaming that you've tried to assault her,” León de la Riva told listeners.
Despite apologizing and arguing his words had been misconstrued, Valladolid residents were spurred on to take action by Ada Colau, the woman who's fought for thousands of families facing eviction in Spain's economic crisis.
The social activist tweeted #escrachedesujetadores, which translates as “bra protest” and refers to the type of demo which involves protesters confronting politicians at their homes or places of work.
— Ada Colau (@AdaColau) August 22, 2014
The hashtag turned into a trending topic and led disgruntled Valladolid residents to stage a real protest in the town hall square.
They held a minute’s silence for all the Spanish women who have lost their lives at the hands of their partners and called for “the immediate resignation of a chauvinist and retrograde mayor who doesn’t represent our society”.
Demonstrators then tied bras together and cordoned off the square with them while directing their ire at León de la Riva and Spain’s equality minister Ana Mato for not speaking out against him.
— Isabel Valle (@valleisabel65) August 26, 2014
The right-wing mayor, in power since 1995, has openly admitted to having a problem with “verbal incontinence”.
The 68-year-old, ironically a gynaecologist before entering politics, famously said “I always think the same thing when I see her pout but I’m not going to tell you”, in reference to former Spanish Health Minister Leire Pajín.
In 2010, he also implied his rival in Valladolid’s municipal elections Soraya Rodríguez “would accuse him of rape”.
Protest organizers have called on women’s groups and demonstrators to boycott at a plenary session on September 2nd to continue to push for their mayor’s resignation.