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#MeToo :Sexual abuse survivors have to face lawsuit

Austria, Jan 23 : In Austria, global #metoo movement involves legal problem for sexual abuse survivors. In a case where a former member of Austria’s parliament was convicted this month of libel against a man she publicly accused of sexually harassing her on Facebook.

In an unprecedented case, a judge at the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna ruled that Green Party politician Sigrid Maurer libeled the owner of a city craft beer store because she couldn’t prove that he actually posted the harassing messages on his Facebook account.

Under Austrian defamation law, any person openly accusing a public figure of sexual abuse can face a lawsuit, and, unless they can prove that the abuse did happen or convince a judge that they truly believed that it happened, they can be sentenced to six months to a year in prison, or to pay a fine.

Women’s rights activists called the verdict a disheartening setback for those combating sexual harassment.

Winning Olympic gold is considered the pride of a nation but  when Nicola Werdenigg, a former Olympic skier, spoke out, the first to complain,  on what she calls the systematic abuse of power that took place in the Austrian professional skiing community more than 40 years ago.
Werdenigg did not explicitly name the male teammate she said raped her when she was 16 and her case never made it to court, by sharing her experience, others have been encouraged to go also public with their stories.

Austrian defamation laws stipulate that the burden of proof lies with the accuser, according to two Austrian lawyers.

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