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  HOME | Chile

The Rape and Suicide Story That Shakes Chilean Society

SANTIAGO – The young Chilean Antonia Barra was allegedly raped in mid-September and almost a month later the psychological consequences motivated her suicide.

On Wednesday, the court confirmed the violation and ordered house arrest for the accused, Martin Pradenas, but not preventive detention, and the case has once again shaken Chile.

Already on June 16, another judicial ruling that ordered Antonia’s family not to disclose information about Pradenas and eliminate all publications on social networks where he was accused of having raped the young woman caused controversy.

As a reaction, the label “Martin Pradenas Rapist” was a trend in Chile, and a multitude of photos of the 28-year-old man circulated on Instagram.

To date, the feminist collective LasTesis, known worldwide for creating the tune and choreography of “A rapist on your way,” called to play this song “dedicated to Martin Pradenas and all the impunity rapists and the patriarchal justice they represent.”

A crowd of people gathered this afternoon in front of the Pradenas home, in the southern city of Temuco, to pander and protest the precautionary measures adopted by the judge that left the defendant under house arrest until he is tried for rape, which generated some incidents and motivated police action.

On the morning of Sept. 18, 2019, Antonia Barra, who was 21 years old, woke up in a cabin in Pucon, a city in southern Chile, with Martin Pradenas on top of her. After yelling at him to take off, the young woman got dressed and left.

All this according to multiple messages from the WhatsApp application that Barra sent shortly after to several friends, the object of the investigation and that have been leaked by some local media, and in which the victim reported having been raped by Pradenas and said she did not want to report him for afraid of how his parents might take it.

The young woman was silent for weeks until on Oct. 12, 2019, she called her ex-boyfriend, Rodrigo Canario. In the call, which Canario recorded, Barra recounted Pradenas’ sexual assault.

“Disgusting” and “shit sow” were some of the insults that Canario hurled at her. Antonia Barra’s ex-partner forwarded the recording and Pradenas found out the same day of the call.

On Oct. 13, 2019 Antonia sent another message to Canario, this time saying goodbye. That day the young woman took her life in Temuco.

On June 15, the Chilevision channel released a video where Pradenas is seen pulling Antonia, leading her to his cabin (tourist accommodation) in Pucon. It is appreciated how the young woman staggers while intoxicated and it is clear that she is trying to resist. Pradenas takes her hand and insists on taking her from the party they were at.

Pradenas broke the silence on July 17. In a video uploaded to YouTube, the accused, who maintains his innocence, affirms that in the complete footage you can see “how with Antonia we kiss, hug, and then leave like normal people.”

For his part, the defendant’s lawyer, Gaspar Calderon, maintained at the July 21 hearing that Antonia leaves with the defendant “by his will … no one throws her, no one pushes her, no one kidnaps her,” he said.

On Wednesday, Calderon, in an interview with the TVN channel, asked the public not to make prior judgments of the case, while reiterating the innocence of his client.

On Tuesday, July 21, the trial against Pradenas began, against whom five more complaints of sexual abuse of other young women also weighed.

Two of the cases, which occurred between 2010-2014, were dismissed for being prescribed (in Chile, these types of crimes prescribe after five years); while the remaining three were dismissed for “not having a background to configure the cases.”

And this Wednesday, the judge of the case, Federico Gutierrez, determined that there are grounds to prove a violation in the Antonia case.

However, the magistrate rejected the request of the Prosecutor’s Office to order preventive detention for Pradenas, for whom he ordered total house arrest, national roots and a prohibition on approaching the victims.

The Temuco Guarantee Court established 120 days for the investigation of the facts.

The Chilevision television channel had access to a report by the Temuco Sex Crimes Brigade in which different sexual behaviors of Pradenas during his childhood and adolescence are narrated.

“Some girls commented that Martin had touched them, but at that time we did not give it much importance, since Martin was a little boy. I talked to the mother, but she apparently tended to normalize her (her behavior),” revealed an infant educator who knew Pradenas as a child.

Another of the testimonies corresponds to a young woman who affirmed that “Martin used to have abusive behaviors” with her on a sexual level.


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