QCOSTARICA – Between January 1 and May 20 of this year (140 days), 84 people have been arrested for street sexual harassment.
The figure is equivalent to one arrest every 40 hours.
It is, in its entirety, men who corner or chase their victims, exhibit themselves, or masturbate on public roads. There are also individuals who record (without consent) their victims.
The statistic was provided by the Legal Support Department of the Ministry of Public Security (MSP), in a press release.
According to the report, the majority of arrests were made in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), with the canton of San José leading with 25 arrested, followed by the cantons of Heredia and Pérez Zeledón with 11 arrests each.
The latest arrest made last Tuesday when the Fuerza Publica (National Police) apprehended a man named Moncada.
Presumably, the suspect showed the genitals to a minor who was walking with her relatives on a public road, in the district of San Sebastián, San José.
The man was charged with “exhibitionism” by the Flagrancia Prosecutor of the First Judicial Circuit of San José.
The most frequent cases are persecution and cornering (51), followed by exhibitionism or public masturbation (27) and the production of audiovisual material (6), that is taking a video or photo of the victims in an inappropriate matter.
According to the MSP, 11 people have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to three years.
All of them have been sanctioned under the new “Ley Contra el Acoso Sexual Callejero” (Law Against Street Sexual Harassment).
At that time, when signing the law last August, President Carlos Alvarado said: “Let’s hope it is a change not only in the legal, but also in the cultural, and that men begin to incorporate these new masculinities in which this type of behavior is not normalized, which is not the right one”.
The “Ley” typifies cornering, exhibitionism and masturbation in public spaces as the most severe forms of street sexual harassment. These behaviors were reclassified as a crime in the Penal Code.
This Wednesday, the Deputy Minister of Public Security, Eduardo Solano, made a call to the victims, so that “faced with a situation of this type they go to a police officer or call the 9-1-1 emergency system, or find a nearby police station”.
Solano emphasized that the responding police officer “has the obligation to answer the call and look for the offender” to charge him with the crime.