San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Women's rights

Costa Rica launches plan to curb violence against women

Days after a man caught on camera beating a woman in the street in San José was ordered to pay a fine of only $78, the National Women’s Institute (INAMU) has disclosed the details of a national plan to fight violence against women.

The plan, unveiled at a public event on Monday, is a joint effort by INAMU, the Judicial Branch, and the Public Security, Labor and Public Health ministries.

INAMU Executive President Alejandra Mora said that the plan’s main goal is to provide a comprehensive approach to all factors involved in violence against women.

“It also seeks to reduce impunity, ensure greater protection for women and prevent femicide,” she said.

The plan also includes measures to protect indirect victims such as children, who often are exposed to violence within their families. Mora noted that the strategy proposes specific actions for different age groups.

“Patrimonial violence, or the violation of women’s property rights, is the most common among the elderly. Violence among younger women shows up primarily in harassment and domestic violence,” she explained.

Mora said that officials are seeking “a change in the macho culture, promoting non-violent masculinity and equality.”

How will the plan achieve all this? It includes a media campaign aimed at children and young men promoting respect for women, and increased support for victims, such as heightened police response, social assistance, judicial protection measures and legal counsel.

Labor Vice Minister Nancy Marín said addressing violence against women in the workplace is also part of the plan.

“We are working to ensure that there is no impunity in proven cases,” she said.

Officials said at the event that a total of 22 public agencies, organizations and universities have signed on to the plan and pledged to work with the INAMU to improve women’s situation in the country.

Priority 

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata said during the presentation that he has ordered National Police officers to prioritize complaints about domestic violence over any other crime.

In the first six months of the year, the National Police received a total of 44,000 complaints of violence against women. According to INAMU, a total of 16 women have been murdered in gender violence-related incidents so far in 2017. The total number in 2016 was 24.

Mata said that it is reprehensible that acts of violence against women are occurring even in plain daylight and in public spaces.

This past Friday, June 23, INAMU officials and women’s rights’ groups reacted with surprise and asked for harsher punishment for aggressors after a Criminal Court in San José convicted a man who punched a woman in the street to pay a fine of only ₡45,000 ($78).

The woman told the police that she stood up to the man after he began catcalling her on the street. The man reacted by kicking and punching her several times, until a bystander jumped in and stopped the attack.

The incident occurred in February 2016 and was recorded by a security camera from a nearby store. It was later posted on the Facebook profiles of several women’s rights groups.

See a video report of the incident by Noticias Repretel:

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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