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. The judicial branch generally enforced the law. 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.
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.
The government continued to identify domestic violence against women and children as a serious and growing societal problem. According to a local NGO, interfamily and other violence remained at “pandemic levels.” The judicial branch reported that 51 women died from gender-based violence (including 22 femicides) during 2014. 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 fewer 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 2014, according to the judicial branch’s statistics office, authorities opened 19,296 cases of domestic violence throughout the country, but only 861 cases were tried and 496 persons sentenced for crimes of violence against women, including eight homicides.
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 5,507 women and protection to 78 women during the first six months of the year.
The public prosecutor, police, and ombudsman have offices dedicated to addressing domestic violence.
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 151 complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace between January and June. INAMU reported and assisted in investigating 31 cases of sexual harassment. According to INAMU, their awareness-raising campaigns led to an increase in the number of reports, compared with previous years.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children; to manage their reproductive health; and to have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. On September 10, the president signed an executive order legalizing in-vitro fertilization to comply with the 2012 Inter-American Court of Human Rights order to reinstate women’s right to undergo the procedure. On October 7, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court admitted for review a complaint challenging the constitutionality of the executive order.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. 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. The law requires women and men receive equal pay for equal work. In 2012 the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) estimated earnings for women were 93.4 percent of earned income for men.