Sex harassment campaign aimed at street Romeos

Street Romeos are the target launched by government and non-profit entities Thursday.

The purpose of the $35,000 campaign is to raise awareness of women to street harassment and to warn off aggressive men. The current campaign will carry an anti-harassment message on the electronic screens carried by 200 buses. A later campaign will put signs on the street, place them on the back of buses and display the message in movie theaters, said a summary released Thursday.

Participating are the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, the Defensoría de los Habitantes and the non-profit Colectivo Peras del Olmo.

Organizers say that six of every 10 women told Universidad de Costa Rica surveyors last October that they had been a victim of sexual harassment. The current campaign does not address other forms of harassment, such as that in the workplace, or sexual harassment of men by women or of men by men.

According to the campaign the frequent types of harassment include wolf whistles, vulgar words, touching, rubbing, exhibitionism, staring at parts of a woman’s body or blocking the path of a woman.

Also listed are piropos, those very Latin and sometimes colorful or creative statements that are uttered to women, usually on the street. The women’s institute in a tweet has said that 79.1 percent of women have faced unwanted comments in public based on a 2010 survey.

The organizers of the campaign suggest that whitle081216even mild street harassment may lead to serious crimes, such as rape. They also cited cases involving the murder of women. Far from being innocent, harassment continues the various types of violence that women suffer only for being women, said Ariel Calderón of the Colectivo Peras del Olmo in a statement.

The transport ministry is involved because organizers say that a lot of harassment happens on public buses. The campaign announcement also cites parks, the public street, stadiums and shopping centers where harassment takes place.

The organizers say that harassment injures the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of a victim.

There are other organizations with the same goal in Costa Rica that are not part of the current campaign.

The objectives of the campaign are certainly difficult because displaying masculinity is a  Latin characteristic. Some of the women recognize this. Peras del Olmo can be translated as the pear of the elm tree. The elm has no fruit, and the organization said the name reflects something not attainable.

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