Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape and domestic violence, and provides penalties from 10 to 18 years in prison for rape. The length of the sentence depends on the victim’s age and other factors, such as the assailant’s use of violence or position of influence over the victim. According to a local NGO, rape was underreported due to fear of retribution, further violence, social stigma, or lack of trust in the judicial system. On July 28, in an unprecedented decision, the legislative assembly removed a Supreme Court justice so he could face a criminal trial on six counts of alleged rape and one count of attempted rape.
According to the National Institute of Women (INAMU), the rape law applies to spousal rape, although such cases were much more difficult to prove. The judicial branch and the social security system implemented a program for collecting physical evidence in cases of rape so that victims could receive immediate attention. The program also provided training to emergency services staff. Four locations in the country, besides the judicial forensic clinic, had rape kits to collect and analyze physical evidence for use in prosecutions. According to the judicial branch’s statistics office, there were 1,921 reported rape cases in 2013. Ultimately, courts tried 332 cases of rape, 18 cases of attempted rape, and 87 cases of aggravated rape in 2013, and they convicted and sentenced 147, 15, and 40 defendants, respectively.
The government continued to identify domestic violence against women and children as a serious and growing societal problem. According to a local NGO, intrafamily and extrafamily violence was approaching “pandemic levels.” The judicial branch reported that 36 women died from gender-based violence (including 18 femicides) during 2013. In 2012 a total of 42 women and girls died from gender-based violence (including 26 femicides). The law prohibits domestic violence and provides measures for the protection of domestic violence victims. Criminal penalties range from 10 to 100 days in prison for aggravated threats and up to 35 years in prison for aggravated homicide, including a sentence of 20 to 35 years for persons who kill their partners. If a domestic violence offender has no violent criminal record and is sentenced to less than three years’ imprisonment, the law also provides for alternative sanctions, such as weekend detentions and assistance, including referrals for social services and rehabilitation. In 2013, according to the judicial branch’s statistics office, authorities opened 20,513 cases of domestic violence throughout the country. Although only 839 cases were tried and 437 persons sentenced for crimes of violence against women, including seven homicides, this represented an increase of 117 cases from those tried in 2012.
INAMU assisted women and their children who were victims of domestic violence in its regional office in San Jose and in three other specialized centers and temporary shelters. INAMU maintained a domestic abuse hotline connected to the 911 emergency telephone system and provided counseling to 3,740 women and protection to 211women during the first six months of the year.
The public prosecutor, police, and ombudsman have offices dedicated to addressing domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): According to INAMU the law does not prohibit FGM/C explicitly, but the criminal code stipulates a maximum sentence of 10 years for anyone convicted of inflicting wounds that cause physical and psychological damage. The practice was virtually nonexistent in the country.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and educational institutions, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security generally enforced this prohibition. The law imposes penalties ranging from a letter of reprimand to dismissal, with more serious incidents subject to criminal prosecution. The Ombudsman’s Office received 113 complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace between January and June.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of children; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The maternal mortality rate was 40 per 100,000 live births as of 2010.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men under the law in most cases. The law prohibits discrimination against women and obligates the government to promote political, economic, social, and cultural equality. The government maintained offices for gender-related problems in most ministries. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for investigating allegations of gender discrimination. INAMU implemented programs that promoted gender equality and publicized the rights of women, including the creation of a technical standard certification to promote gender equality. In 2013 the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) reported women represented 45.2 percent of the labor force. The law requires women and men receive equal pay for equal work. In 2012 INEC estimated earnings for women were 93.4 percent of earned income for men.