Q COSTA RICA – In Costa Rica, touching, without consent (Acariciar sin consentimiento in Spanish), the waist and back and any other body part of a person for the purpose of ‘satisfying a pleasure’ constitutes a crime of sexual abuse.
That is the determination of the Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (Supreme Court), in judgement 2016-01107, of October 21, 2016, confirming the conviction against a manager of a restaurant, accused of sexual harassment to the detriment of a cashier.
For the high court, Costa Rica legislation does not limit touching without consent only to areas of sexual arousal (erogenous zones), but could also include legs, arms, stomach, waist, back or neck, provided that “it is determined there is libidinous (sexual pleasure for the accused)”.
The ruling also noted that caresses can be punished, even if they are no accompanied by “insinuating phrases of carnal desires”.
The punishment is imprisonment of between two and four years, according to Article 162 of the Penal Code (Codigo Penal in Spanish).
The case in question goes back to events occurring between September 2010 and January 2011, the accused, a 65 year-old man who was manager of the restaurant, is attributed to three counts of sexual abuse against a woman, whose identity was protected, a cashier with three children and worked at the restaurant for five months.
In the complaint, the woman described the three events: one time when he took advantage to approach her from the back…touching her buttocks (over her clothing) with his hands; the other when he approached from the back, told her how nice she smelled and kissed her neck; and the third time, again approaching her from the back, caressed her waist and back.
In the first trial, on October 9, 2015, the Tribunal de Goicoechea sentenced José Antonio Robles Mora to a six-year sin prison. However, on appeal, on March 18, 2016, the sentenced was reduced to four years.
In the appeal, the appellate judges concluded that touching the waist and back is not a crime because there was no lustful intent, the accused did not make any sexual comments, so that it could not, in itself, be considered an abusive act of sexual connotation.
However, prosecutor Jéssica Hernández Elizondo objected to the criterion and took the matter to a higher court.
For the prosecutor the touching of the waist and back was made with “obvious overtones of sexual harassment”.
The prosecutor, in her appeal, pointed out that many parts of the body are also areas of sexual pleasure.
The prosecutor’s interpretation was accepted by the judges of the higher court, turning down the appeal court reduction of sentence and reinstated the original six-year prison term.
Mora entered prison on October 29, 2016 and is eligible for release in September 2020, confirmed the Ministry of Justice.
Source La Nacion
Who would you allow to touch you, and where?
Struggling to know when it is appropriate to give someone a hug or even simply pat them on the arm? Oxford University scientists have created a series of body maps that show just where we are comfortable to be touched.
The ‘touchability index’ provides colour-coded information for everyone from our nearest and dearest to extended family, casual acquaintances and complete strangers.
The above are only results of the Oxford study and does not take into account Costa Rica laws on the subject.