San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicas and Ticos Talk Women’s, Kids’ Rights

In visits with Costa Rican leaders earlier this month, nine Nicaraguan lawmakers sought tips on how to pass and enforce laws that benefit women and youth.

Looking to draft a Family Code similar to Costa Rica’s, they met with leaders of the Women’s Committee in the Legislative Assembly, the Child Welfare Office (PANI), and the National Institute for Women (INAMU).

Costa Rica’s Family Code, passed in 1974, lays ground rules for marriage, divorce, adoption and parenthood. The code requires state institutions to give special protection to women and youth under 18.

The lawmakers, part of Nicaragua’s Committee for Women, Youth and Childhood, studied family codes in seven countries before deciding on Costa Rica and Panama as the best examples. The lawmakers will work with the Legal Committee in Nicaragua’s Assembly to draft the code.

The lawmakers also looked at how Costa Rica enforces its Code for Children and Adolescents, which protects the rights of people under 18. Nicaragua has a similar code, but it is not fully enforced, the lawmakers said. Parents abandon their children, and fathers leave their partners, said Sandinista lawmaker María Lydia Mejía.

At a lunchtime chat, lawmaker Ana Elena Chacón from the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) explained Costa Rica’s legal system to the Nicaraguan representatives.

Among Costa Rica’s recent achievements, she said, was a 2007 law outlawing marriage for people under 15. Costa Rican lawmakers also changed the criminal code to remove a clause absolving sexual abusers if they marry their victims.

The Nicaraguan lawmakers met March 5 with Mario Víquez, president of the Child Welfare Office, and Jeanette Carrillo, president of the National Institute for Women.


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