Sunday 19 September 2021

Proposed bill seeks to punish street harassment (acoso callejero)

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From 9 to 30 days fine is the sanction that is proposed for those committing “acoso callejero” (street harassment) in Costa Rica.

Street harassment in San Jose

If the bill if approved, the fine would be applied to offenses committed in in public or social networks.

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The text of the proposed bill condemns harassment in public transport, public spaces such as parks, sidewalks, any open public area really, either through words, exhibitions, gestures or manifestations with a sexual connotation or on social networks or electronic media towards a person without their consent.

Although Costa Rica has a protocol since 2015 and was declared of public interest last November by the First Lady, Claudia Dobles, the bill aims to add gender violence as a criminal act under the Penal Code.

“The proposal is to turn sexual harassment into a contravention and one of the challenges it has is the evidentiary system (to have evidence of what is reported) because in this case, as it is a contravention, it is not possible to appeal to the OIJ that is destined to investigate crimes and in this case is not a crime, “said

Dixie Mendoza, coordinator of the Observatorio de Violencia de Género contra las Mujeres (Observatory on Gender Violence against Women), explained currently it is not possible for the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) to investigate street harassment, “it not being a crime”.

Street harassment is a form of sexual harassment that consists of  but not limited to unwanted comments, gestures, honking, wolf-whistling, catcalling, exposure, following, persistent sexual advances, and touching by strangers in public areas such as streets, shopping malls, and public transportation.

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