The Mobilization Against Sexual Violence Spreads in Costa Rica

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    Since Sunday, September 6th, mobilizations of women, especially young, have spread in Costa Rica to demand Justice for the case of Allison Bonilla, an 18-year-old who has been missing for 6 months.

    This fact had a lot of impact on teenagers because Allison was intercepted when she was returning from school. After the arrest and confession of the main suspect, the movement spread from the convocation in the capital, San José.

    “We were very struck by the assistance to the march in San José, and since then the momentum hasn’t stopped, with the support of a growing number of women,” said Angélica Villalobos, a Sociology major at the University of Costa Rica, one of the organizers.

    Dressed in black and with mouth covers, armed with banners and alcohol gel, the participants began their journey through the streets of Ciudad Neily. Not without first having an encounter with the police, who reiterated that, if sanitary regulations were not followed, the demonstration would be dissolved. Faced with the threat by the authority, the people were ordered to maintain the norm of social distancing and the protest continued.

    At first, the slogans were hardly heard. For the majority of the attendees, this was their first demonstration; However, very soon all shouted in unison: “He’s going to fall, he’s going to fall!”

    The first stop that the march made was, precisely, next to the facilities of the Liceo de Ciudad Neily. In that place, the young women showed their great dissatisfaction with the school administration for covering up the numerous cases of sexual harassment by teachers towards the students. In addition, they demanded that there be measures against those who disseminate images with sexual content of the students, since it is a repetitive situation.

    “The harassment we receive from teachers at school, I think is one of the triggers to call the march, and of which everyone is aware and there is no teacher responsible yet. Nobody does anything on the harassment by the staff towards the students. Also, spreading obscene photos of minors and everyone blaming us,” stressed Ana Gabriela Zúñiga, another organizer of the march and student at the Liceo de Ciudad Neily.

    The suffocating heat of this region accompanied everyone, but not even the police patrol that followed the march managed to diminish the fighting spirit. Standing in front of the offices of the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ), the women stopped and began to agitate the demonstration.

    Among the claims was the accusation of negligence and, therefore, responsibility of the State in the cases of recent femicides. In the same way, the march stopped in front of the building of Colosal, a regional media outlet. Discontent is a consequence of the complicity of Mass Media with the system that revictimizes people affected by sexual violence.

    The march, which lasted a kilometer, ended in Neily’s park with the reflections of the participants about continuing to organize and confront patriarchal violence. In addition to all the above, victims around the world were reminded of clandestine abortion. Many of the protesters wore their green scarves. For this reason, it was argued the protest was also in favor of fighting for legal, safe and free abortion.

    “From this, a large collective will be created that will serve as a coalition to make ourselves felt throughout the country and include support for women in rural areas. A movement like this took a long time to form, and now, in 2020 it is being achieved, that in Ciudad Neily we meet and march. So, I feel that great things are going to be achieved,” said Diana Arrieta, a resident of Coto Brus.

    The authorities must assume their role
    From all of the above, it is very important to emphasize the responsibility of the State in cases of femicides and patriarchal violence. For this reason, it is essential that the women’s movement in the South, and throughout the country, be independent and rely only on their own strength.

    The organization of women in educational institutions is necessary to take cases of sexual harassment and violence to the last consequences. It is known that the educational administrators are not interested in the safety of women, they are even more inclined to blame the female students for the length of their skirts than to find those responsible for the dissemination of pornographic content with minors.

    “In addition, we deem essential to demand good support measures for victims of patriarchal violence. It is necessary that they have psychological assistance and temporary shelter so that they can be in safe spaces. Along with this, and due to the Pandemic situation, they should be given a quarantine salary so that they do not have to depend financially on their aggressor”.

    Faced with patriarchal violence, from Ciudad Neily we emphasize: Not one less! Stop sexual harassment! Legal, safe and free abortion in Public hospitals!

    Resonance Costa Rica
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