November 25, 2018
By Kattia Castro
This article is a continuation of our last post. Read it at: www…
The second event that I want to analyze took place on October 29, in the community of Sonafluca in La Fortuna de San Carlos. On that day, Crisley Martínez Rodríguez, a 19 year old woman, was murdered. Pedro Arce, a 56 year old man, who was chief of the traffic department in that area, killed her.
Many people believe that the relationship that existed for five years between Crisley and the murderer was one of “boyfriend-girlfriend”, and indeed this is what was published in the headlines of the mass media. It is my understanding that a relationship of “boyfriend-girlfriend” is based on physical attraction, the sharing of common interests and common goals, a time to get to know each other, the maturation and growth of the two people involved. It is lamentable that a relationship based on violence, control, jealousy and all types of inequalities can be passed off for, and deemed equivalent to, a normal healthy one.
The age difference between Crisley and her murderer was 36 years. Historically, relationships have been accepted and even promoted in which the woman is younger than the man, and this is seen as normal and even as convenient. The benefit of such relationships is defended by saying that the man has more experience, is more endowed with training, has more economic resources, more freedom and more power. In this way such a relationship receives approval when it is absolutely and totally unequal, with grave consequences for the lives of the women. Such acceptance only changes when it is the woman who is older, and who has gone further academically, has more experience, more economic resources, more freedom; in these cases criticism, mockery and censorship rise to the occasion. As long as it is encouraged in young girls that it is physical beauty that they must cultivate and as long as they get dressed up as little princesses who begin to dream of a prince who may rescue them, kiss them without even knowing them, and who can turn into their providers to make them very happy, we are mounting horror story scenarios like the one lived by Crisley Martínez Rodríguez.
In spite of the inequality on several fronts between Crisley and her executioner, there are still those who would say that women are schemers, who are out looking for whoever will provide for them in order to enjoy an easy and effortless lifestyle.
Crisley had a father, mother, uncles, aunts, and neighbors; she wasn’t a person who nobody knew. Nevertheless, for five years she lived a situation considered so normal that no one saw the imminent dangers she was facing and no one raised a finger so that she might go to school or find a job and in this way be able to share with other women her age.
Thousands of women live under conditions similar to those of Crisley; their lives are in danger but no one sees it, not because it is happening far away, nor because the darkness blocks it out, but rather because of the normalization of these forms of violence. The signs it is happening get camouflaged and as seen in the example involving bishop Javier Román Arias, the words are maliciously and perversely hidden and twisted so as not to call things by their name and to smother the denouncement of what is really happening. For this reason it is common to hear things like: the family is in danger because of “gender ideology”, that happened to her because she wasn’t careful, she went out alone and was dressed provocatively; those words were just a compliment; why invest much in going to school if in the end she will be staying in the house caring for her daughters and sons; who put women into politics; he is jealous because he loves her; she doesn’t need to work because he gives her everything; he doesn’t give child support because he doesn’t have a job…and on and on grows the web of excuses on to infinity in order to refrain from denouncing injustice and dedicating ourselves to change.
The literary and symbolic construction, which since the time of the bible and theology has been done for centuries, feeds into these imaginaries of woman as mother, woman as provocative and guilty, woman as submissive and dependent, woman as sufferer, woman in the household space, woman as a complement to the male. We women have other faces, we want to walk other paths, nourish other dreams – our own dreams, not those imposed on us. We want to live our lives and narrate our histories, with our words.
Included in our course material this semester at ICADS is a video exploring the economic challenges and pressures COVID-19 has imposed on many people in Costa Rica.
Katherine Peters is an intercultural educator, Spanish professor, and former Assistant Director of ICADS in Costa Rica. Check out and follow her new blog "New Backwater" and her reflections on her time in Costa Rica.
Even during COVID-19, here at ICADS we are still seeking to explore important social justice issues. This week, watch Javier's webinar about Costa Rican and Nicaraguan relations during the pandemic.