Latin America and the entire world against verbal harassment on streets

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On December 19 in the Netherlands, a Rotterdam court sentenced a man to pay a penalty of 380 euros for verbal harassment of a sexual nature

Latin America and the entire world against verbal harassment on streets

The events occurred during the summer of 2017, when Everon El F, a 36-year-old Dutchman, verbally harassed two groups of women on the streets of Rotterdam. As The New York Times mentions, since 2016, Amsterdam and Rotterdam had adopted a regulation that made street harassment punishable, and El F becomes the first person to be sanctioned for this cause.

Leer en español: Latinoamérica y el mundo en contra del acoso verbal en la calle

Background of the fine

According to DW, in Rotterdam, they created at the end of 2017, an application called STOPapp, which sought to identify people when they were victims of sexual harassment in the street. The fine established for verbal harassment of a sexual nature is 190 euros. In the case of El F, he must pay 380 euros because he was found guilty in two charges.

Thanks to a change in the General Local Rule of Rotterdam, acts such as whistles, calls, among others, are included as punishable actions. The former, as a way to criminalize sexual intimidation in the street. This same norm establishes sanctions ranging from fines of up to 4,100 euros and a maximum of three months in prison.

While the sanction achieved in this case is noteworthy, especially to understand the compliment as a form of violence, it is worth clarifying that the minutia, in this case, is important for the fine received, as El F not only said things to the women. El F was reported to harass eight women in total. He called them, followed, made gestures with his hands, made kissing noises and sat down next to them. In addition, some city officials witnessed this, as The Post Online reports.

The judge, according to La Página, in his sentence, made it clear that the sentences said were not punishable, but the actions such as following women and throwing them, are. That said, the penalty was not given by the compliments that the man used, but by the obvious behavior of harassment.

On December 20, 2018, one day after the sanction was passed against El F, Rotterdam expanded this regulation to cover people from the LGBTQ community. The above, as part of the action and integration program "Relax. This is Rotterdam. "

Read also: Political violence: the new challenge for women

Panorama for Latin America

In a document published in February 2017, by the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, 84% of women between 18 and 45 years of age reported having suffered street sexual harassment at some time.

There is no generalized statistics on the situation of street harassment in Latin America. However, the Observatory Against Street Harassment (OCAC) established that all women suffer from street harassment from the age of 12.

It also establishes street sexual harassment as "practices of sexual connotation exercised by an unknown person, in public spaces such as the street, transport or semi-public spaces (shopping centers, universities, plazas, etc.); that usually generate discomfort in the victim. These actions are unidirectional, that is because they are not consented to by the victim and the person who harasses has no interest in entering into a real communication with the aggrieved person".

This entity, formed in 2013, tries to make street sexual harassment visible as a form of invisible violence in Latin America. It is considered a violent act because it forces the sufferer to make changes in their routes, schedules or clothing, in order to dismiss the harassment, in addition to the feeling of insecurity that suffering involves.

Classification of Street Harassment as Crime in South America

Currently, there are few Latin American countries that have undertaken a legal way to punish street harassment with penalties or jail.

According to Sputnik, Argentina at the moment has a bill that seeks to establish fines of up to $1500 for those who sexually harass someone in the street. Likewise, street harassment would be included as a crime against sexual integrity in the penal code.

In Chile, since April 2018, there's an ordinance that seeks to sanction any form of non-consensual sexual approach came into force. This ordinance applies for the neighborhoods of Las Condes and Recoleta in Santiago de Chile and includes fines of between US $200 and US $385.

Now, there are positions against and in favor of a monetary or prison sanction for street harassment. Some experts, such as the sociologist Martina Sanguinetti, in dialogue for Sputnik, consider that the most appropriate way to reduce street harassment is in education. This, as a way to de-escalate violence and generate a lasting and sustainable effect.

Likewise, another of the difficulties faced in these cases is that the belief that the compliment is a compliment and not a form of violence is still deeply rooted. However, there is a growing interest from women's and government entities in making this visible as harassment.


LatinAmerican Post | Mariela Ibarra Piedrahita

Translated from "Latinoamérica y el mundo en contra del acoso verbal en la calle"