The mayor of the Chilean commune of Recoleta, Daniel Jadue, has implemented the country's first laws to criminalize street harassment.
“We are beginning the path toward liberating public spaces in Recoleta from sexual assault,” the prominent Communist Party of Chile militant said.
“Gender violence is a growing cycle that originates with a (power) gap that seems to be completely normalized in our country... The most important is the beginning of a cultural change, to put this topic on the table for discussion, the topic of violence against women and sexual minorities in public spaces, and especially when there is an asymmetry of power,” he said.
The new laws would implement criminal penalties for both verbal and nonverbal street harassment, and have been met with praise on social media. Fines for various types of harassment range from US $ 79 to US $ 391.
Sanctioned acts include obscene gestures, whistling, honking, obscene words and unwanted sexual expressions that are humiliating hostile or offensive. It is now illegal to take photo or video of a person without consent, engage in public masturbation, follow someone, make intimidating approaches, and touch someone in a sexual way without consent.
The laws are a major achievement in a country that still operates under the structure of the Pinochet-era constitution.
Mayor Daniel Jadue is a prominent member of the Communist Party of Chile, and is known for implementing progressive social programs and successful development measures in Recoleta, which have in turn influenced national policies.