Statistics on Harassment in Costa Rica
There are laws that protect victims from sexual harassment, doesn´t matter if it is on the streets, public spaces or in their own workplaces in Costa Rica. But the normalized violence is still very present, especially for women.
Laws are focused in prohibiting and penalize sexual harassment, genre discrimination and anything against women and men. Any action that might be vinterpreted as harassment (labor or sexual) can be claimable.
In a work environment, there is the Work Ministry, where the victim can place the legal claim against the victimizer. If the owner or another employee is proven to have harassed another employee, the victim can choose to keep working there or quit with all the law benefits from the employer. If the victimizer is an employee, he/she can be fired without any benefit and a criminal record is started. There’s even a law that in public or private companies there has to be a department dedicated to analyze case by case the formal claims and escalate the results to the Work Ministry when the results determine that it is, in fact, harassment and cannot take more than 3 months to provide a verdict.
So companies are forced to change the internal policies and make extra investment to assure victims the justice they deserve but the victims might not be aware that the policies or internal departments can be inefficient, creating other kinds of vulnerabilities.
However, harassment in workplaces is getting more and more attention to set the record straight.
Public awareness about harassment is very important and it is a goal for the INAMU (Women’s National Institute) to spread this awareness starting in schools, public transportation and others and to provide resources for victims to seek help.
Sexual harassment damages the physical, emotional and mental integrities with non-consented words, gestures, touching, molesting and even rape. Victims are vulnerable by culture and bureaucracy. Formal claims are not near close to the number of abuses, that´s a lot considering that in Costa Rica, 5 rape formal complaints are reported and 6 out of 10 women have been victims of harassment at some point of their lifes and feminicides are on the raise, sadly. The tools to protect the victims and the witnesses exist but are not being used.
Costa Rica still has a long way to go to protect victims of sexual harassment and we hope the government provide the aids needed to improve the situation, specially for girls and women.