Gracias Gerardo: a march against street harassment in Costa Rica

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    Protesters will gather at 9am on October 18 in front of The National Theater to address street harassment.

    All eyes are on Costa Rica after the recent stabbing of harassment vigilante, Gerardo Cruz Barquero. The world can no longer deny that harassment creates verbal and even physical violence against both the harassed and those brave enough to stand up against it.

    After chatting about the incident with her cousin and brother, Pricilla Arias began a Facebook event called ¡Gracias Gerardo! or “Thank You, Gerardo!” in English, to bring people together for a march in support of young Cruz, a baker by trade.

    It will start at the National Theater and continue to the Asamblea Legislativa. Participants are asked to wear white shirt symbolizing respect, love, tolerance and the firmness organizers want to show.

    From Indignation to Action

    [quote_center]“The video made me angry and repulsed, but when I realized that the boy had been stabbed, I felt I had to do something.”[/quote_center]

    Arias explains that judicial authorities have yet to issue an official statement as to why the attackers attempted to kill Gerardo. Originally, police believed it could have been an attempted robbery, but since nothing was taken, it seems more likely that the attack was the consequence his video.

    Arias started the movement on Facebook last Wednesday. She took the initiative because, as she says, this is an everyday reality for woman in Costa Rica. She saw Gerardo’s gesture as brave and felt grateful to him. She also considers it important to unite the country to seek social health and education on gender issues

    Many volunteers have already taken leadership positions in the march. Eddy Chacón is in charge of coordinating the route and its execution. Mayela Castillo is handling social media, and Ericka Mora is inviting photographers to document the march — 23 have already signed-up. Furthermore lawyer Oscar Alfaro is writing the proposal to be delivered to the Asamblea Legislativa. Roberto Zoch and, of course, Arias are principle leaders as well.

    During the demonstration signatures will be collected and then delivered to both local deputies and the Executive Branch of Costa Rica on Monday morning. Gracias Gerardo‘s goal? To make a real law with actual regulation about street harassment in the country.

    What spurred the march?

    In case you haven’t heard, Gerardo Cruz made Costa Ricans open their eyes to street harassment by publishing a video on his Facebook profile last week.

    Cruz recorded a video where you can see an older man — identified by the name Umaña, an employee of the Ministerio de Hacienda — filming under a young woman’s skirt with the intention of see her butt. This happened in Avenida Central in San José. The woman apparently didn’t know the man was walking behind her.

    Of course, this is not an isolated event. The issue of sexual harassment is present in public transportation too. INAMU, the National Institute for Women, recognizes that such complaints are constant; each year they receive about 7,000 reports.

    The video at hand was filmed on October 5, and at about eight in the evening of October 7, Cruz was stabbed in his chest by two men in San Sebastián. In the video, Cruz demands justice for street harassment.

    Cruz’s decision to publish the video uncensored on social media has caused a global controversy. Were his actions too much? Should he have left the man alone and let the authorities handle it? One way or the other, the video and the story of his subsequent stabbing have been picked up from international news authorities such as CNN, The NY Daily News and Great Britain’s Daily Mail.

    At only 22-years-old, with a four-year-old child and another one on the way, Cruz is fighting for his life in Hospital Calderón Guardia.

    Before Gerardo was attacked, Costa Ricans dismayed and took justice into their own hands with peace movements. People started vigils and prayer services in downtown San José, including Parque Nacional and Plaza de la Democracia.

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