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    Sexual Harassment in Sports Will Convey Strong Sanctions in Costa Rica

    The legislative bill was approved this week in the National Assembly

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    Sexual harassment practices in sports activities must be investigated by each sport organization and, if proven, will result in punishments ranging from written reprimands to eventual dismissals – without prejudice to additional legal proceedings. This is established by bill 21.192, against sexual harassment in sport, which was unanimously approved tonight in the first of two debates.

    The initiative establishes that each “sports entity” must guarantee the existence of internal mechanisms for the processing and investigation of complaints of harassment; which must follow their “due process”, regardless of whether or not there are legal proceedings in progress.

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    By “sports entity” is understood to “first and second degree sports associations, sports promotion entities, public limited sports companies, national sports federations, professional and amateur leagues, sportsmen’s associations, as well as any other entity whose corporate purpose is sports and is recognized by the National Council of Sports and Recreation “.

    Likewise, the initiative typifies different behaviors such as sexual harassment in sport, among them requests for sexual favors to obtain preferential treatment or under threat; gestures, noises, hisses, gasps or moans with sexual connotations, and body approaches or other physical conduct of a sexual nature, unwanted and offensive to the recipient.

    Severe penalties
    The penalties required by law for these offenses are four and will be used depending on the seriousness of the act reported. In order, the following may be applied: written reprimands with a copy to the personal file, suspensions of not less than one month, dismissals from the sports team or entity, and prohibitions to participate and belong to the sports entity (in the case of a minor of age who commits the act of harassment). “In the event that there are sports organizations that do not have the conditions to carry out the investigation, the complainant can resort directly to the judicial system”, warns the norm.
    Respect for human dignity
    The project was promoted by deputy María José Corrales, of the National Liberation Party (PLN). She celebrated the progress of the initiative and assured that this seeks to serve as crime prevention mechanism for the sports federations and associations themselves. “If we have made efforts to remove sexual harassment in the streets, we also want to do so in sports and not only out of respect for human dignity, but because as a country we cannot truncate a sports career of a person who is affected by a harassment of this nature,” she declared.

    The eventual law would apply to interactions between people of the same hierarchical level, between people of a hierarchical level lower than a higher one, between athletes, and other people who provide services to different sports entities. It provides a period of two years to report acts of harassment and, in addition, the power to conciliate if possible.

    Harassment in sport
    Data provided by the National Olympic Committee (CON), during the discussion of the project, indicated that seven out of 20 high-performance athletes have suffered sexual harassment. The consultation was made to 200 athletes from 25 sports. Likewise, it was determined that up to 82% of the offenders were men, up to 29% by coaches or managers.

    Faced with this situation, the bill also establishes that the person investigated for harassment may receive precautionary measures, taking into account refraining from disturbing the complainant or witnesses, the prohibition of attending competitive sports sites or events and the temporary removal of the person’s position without pay.

    In addition to all these measures, the project would imply the creation of a Commission against Sexual Harassment by the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (Icoder), which should carry out prevention and training processes, follow up on complaints that are filed and provide psychological support to any complainant.

    After its eventual final approval, the Executive Power would have a maximum of three months to regulate the regulations. In addition, Icoder is ordered to carry out “a national dissemination and awareness campaign” about it.

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