The victim speaking to C5N yesterday. Photo via C5N.

A man who was allegedly sexually abused for 10 months by five colleagues was told by a judge that what happened was “not that bad” and that the crime was not serious enough to warrant the arrest of the perpetrators.

The 30-year-old man, whose identity has not been revealed for confidentiality reasons, said he suffered “every type of abuse” for almost two years at the hands of his work colleagues while working night shifts as a trash collector in Chascomús, Buenos Aires Province. The man’s report was originally filed on May 7th by the victim’s father in the judicial department of Dolores, also in the same province, however the complaint does not appear to have been taken seriously.

Daniela Bartoletti, a public prosecutor in Chascomús, ordered for the perpetrators’ immediate arrest on charges of “repeated sexual abuse.” However, her request was turned down by Judge Cristian Sebastián Gasquet who concluded that the crime was not “that bad” and that the accusation was not serious enough to order the arrest of the man’s colleagues.

Speaking to C5N yesterday, the victim, with his back turned to the camera, said he had suffered “a nightmare” and “could not sleep” during and after the months of abuse, which included an instance when an attack was filmed and sent to his wife. He added that one of the abusers lives just two blocks from the home he shares with his wife and daughter, preventing him from leaving the house out of fear.

“Like an idiot, I put my trust in these people and they betrayed that trust,” he affirmed. “They chose me to carry out their sexual abuse… I was a game for them.”

When asked why he did not report the abuse earlier (because of course every victim of abuse must be asked that), he responded that, “I was always scared, of the person in charge, of the people, for my job; I couldn’t do anything.” He also said that the perpetrators had threatened to set fire to him and his family if he went forward to the authorities and had even said that they would throw him in a machine used to burn garbage.

The events in Chascomús sadly adds fuel to the argument that men are often treated as “second-class victims” in situations of abuse, with many police forces and councils not taking their claims seriously enough. Reporting abuse remains a “shameful” issue for men — often absurdly considered more shameful than for women — and as a result is relatively unspoken about.

That being the case, the secretary of the Chascomús Worker’s Union, Mercedes Roldán, has since clarified that there would be “secrecy in the summary hearings” and that it was an absolute necessity to “protect the victim.” Compare that with the way in which female victims of abuse have their images plastered across national media outlets.

Despite Judge Gasquet’s comment, which was at best feigning ignorance but at worst professionally negligent, Bartoletti does have the power to investigate the defendants and bring them to court if enough evidence is found.

Meanwhile, according to a statement from the local council, the five abusers have been suspended from their duties without pay, while the victim has been transferred to work within another municipal division.