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July 26th, 2007
I have been pondering about blogging this for a while now… partly to get a handle on how I feel, partly because I expect some interesting comments.
Not long ago, President Óscar Arias Sánchez signed into law (“Ley de penalización de violencia contra las mujeres”) a truly controversial measure that provides tougher and longer sentences for the murder of women than of men.
While that in itself seems odd to me, the kicker is it also makes it a crime to insult a woman. Here I am not just speaking of a woman on the street or in the workplace. I am referring to any woman… even a wife or daughter. The law punishes men who are physically and/or psychologically abusive of women, especially a wife, live-in partner or girlfriend.
Theoretically, the law was designed to place some limits on the famous Latino “macho” behavior prevalent here and in many Latin countries. Good luck! Like a law is going to change a culture!
Like most, I have been in a lot of relationships in my life, but I have never struck a woman (other than my sister Pam when I was 11 and she deserved it) though I am sure that I have said things that were just wrong while in the heat of battle. The women also certainly did not remain mum during these conflicts. Couples fight, at least just about all the couples I know. This law certainly places some interesting new rules on the average couple in Costa Rica.
The new law provides sentences of from six months to two years in prison for a male who ridicules or frightens his female companion. It also provides protection against something called “psychological aggression.” That is defined as saying pretty much anything negative to your partner that would cause her distress. WOW! How is THAT determined?
A comment like “you seem to be gaining a little weight” or the like, is now cause for imprisonment! Say that to a woman in menopause (like my wife), and it would be the man (me) who would be dodging a knife!
Kidding aside, I often call my wife Gordita… a (true) term of endearment but literally translates to “little fat girl”. Does that make me eligible for the slammer? Guess so! She also calls me Gordito, a far more accurate word when used for me as my wife is quite thin whereas I have problems seeing my feet without tilting forward a bit.
The new penalty for actually killing the female companion is 20 to 35 years. The penalty for a “typical” murder, (read that as killing a man I guess), is 12 to 18 years. Huh? Good to know my life is worth about half of any woman’s life. (Please, no comment from my ex-wife). The current law sets outs the same sentence in the case of murder of a wife or live-in partner but only in the case where there are one or more children created from the union.
So I guess it is best to kill her before you have babies?
I am certainly not against women here, but am I the only one who thinks this is just nuts??
The bill was passed 45 in favor and 3 against after having been in the asemblea for 7 or 8 years. It never got close to passing before, but seemed to have 9 lives as it would always be resurrected after some particularly nasty domestic violence resulting in the death of the female. We even have a new word! Femicide!
Jails here are already badly overcrowded, crime is on the increase and now this?
I cannot see how this law can possibly withstand the sure-to-come appeal to Sala IV, the constitutional court of Costa Rica, but I am getting very concerned that CR is now on its way to being as dumb as the USA in making biased unreasonable laws based on PC and various “causes”.Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Other Stuff, Rants | Comments (5)