In her “foros” (forum) article published in La Nacion Thursday, February 14, 2019, professor and researcher at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Isabel Gamboa Barboza, relates her story of the reality of being a girl and a woman in Costa Rica.
In her article titled, ‘Un jefe que tuve en el Minae me saludaba besándome en la boca’ (‘A boss I had at the Minae greete me by kissing me on the mouth’), Isabel says she grew up surrounded, literally, by sexual predators. cornered, being a girl, in every square inch she occupied.
“When I was going to for milk, to clean private homes and the houses of priests, to the market, to school, to get coffee; when I was in my house and when I was on the street. All of them were men known for sexually depredating girls and adults and nobody did anything, at most, (they) had a ‘funny’ nickname.
“I remember that a boy who ‘liked me’ threw potash in my face because I rejected him and prevented him from kissing me. A boy who, although a boy, had already learned that he was worth more than me and could dispose of my body in any way!
“When I went to classes at the Colegio Nocturno de Puriscal (night school), I carried a rusty blade in one hand and a frozen heart of terror of men, every night, for five years, every night.
“I also remember, to say just something more, that a boss I had in the Minae (Ministry of the Environment) greeted me kissing me on the mouth, in front of everyone, until the day he stuck his tongue and I do not remember how I managed to do it, but I managed to avoid him in each activity.
“There are many more. During my many years as a professional in Sociology, I have worked with hundreds of women in Latin American countries, women of diverse socioeconomic status, and I can assure you that the vast majority of them have suffered some type of sexual violence.
“As a woman, at the point of being trained and devastated, one quickly develops a sense of humiliation, of; be quiet or I break you more’, of Christian resignation and devotion to men, to any man. That is why so many women defend them when they are denounced.
“For this, sexual violence against us is so forceful and effective and occurs in the midst of a general silence, with the agreement of family, people or a whole country that is silent, becomes an accomplice and facilitates the persecution of women.
“We are living an example of this: now that an former president was been denounced, it is said that ‘everyone knew that he did that’, supposedly. Thus, women are born in a hunting ground with their legs, hands and mouth tied.
“That is why, every so often, I think and say: What extraordinary merit we women have to continue standing, to do things and to fight like warriors! As Xiomara Villegas Badilla did first, when she faced the then legislator Carlos Federico Tinoco and won demonstrating that he was a stalker and as Alexandra Arce von Herold does now.
“Both are our heroines; they and we, all of us, are the #MeToo of Costa Rica.”