San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Men's rights

Costa Rican men will march to demand 'gender equality' before the law

A group of Costa Rican men are asking to be treated equally before the law and demanding a better system for child support and alimony judgments in court. The fed-up Ticos will demonstrate on Saturday in San José during a protest dubbed the “March for Equality,” organized by the Fundación Instituto de Apoyo al Hombre (Foundation to Support Men), or FUNDIAPHO.

The march will begin at 9 a.m. on Paseo Colón, west of downtown San José, and will end at Central Park.

The foundation’s administrative director, Miguel Herrera Córdoba, said the group is asking courts to apply laws equally for men and women.

“We simply want equal footing. Currently, for example, women victims of abuse are offered free counseling and health care, but abused men get nothing. Laws protecting against abuse are not the same for men and women,” Herrera said.

The group also is calling for amendments to legislation regulating child support and alimony, because “current laws are archaic, unequal and only aim to put men in jail,” he said.

Herrera wants an amendment that would “objectively determine” alimony payments using “fair criteria,” and more balanced punishment. Debtors currently can face jail time in these cases.

“Under Costa Rica’s current laws, when a woman seeks alimony or child support, she attends a hearing and provides evidence of her monthly expenditures, then declares how much her husband or partner earns. The judge uses that information to set a provisional amount, and the court allows the man three days to pay or dispute the information provided,” Herrera said.

Herrera said the process opens the door to abuse, and men can do nothing about it.

“In many cases the amount set by the court is exorbitant, and many men end up in prison,” he said. Currently approximately 350 men are in jail for failing to pay alimony or child support, according to FUNDIAPHO.

Judge Hannia Mora Sánchez, judicial coordinator of San José’s alimony and child-support tribunal, confirmed Herrera’s claims about procedure, but she clarified that a 2008 ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court orders judges to base their rulings on substantial evidence and according to current wage regulations.

Child support claims require proof of a blood link, and alimony claims require evidence of a stable relationship, she said. Claimants also must provide receipts, bills or other documents detailing monthly expenses.

A judge also must attempt to confirm a man’s income by accessing salary records at the Social Security System, and in cases of self-employment, the court will use a list of minimum wages classified by occupation and issued by the Labor Ministry, Mora said.

Expenses vs. income

One problem arises when expenses reported by plaintiffs are higher than the defendant’s monthly income. Judges are allowed to set monthly payments that are higher than earnings.

“[The defendant] will have no choice but to find additional sources of income,” Mora said. “Men who decide to have three or more children also must be able to provide for them.”

In response, FUNDIAPHO is asking courts to penalize those who provide false expense information, arguing that in reality, many claimants file fake receipts or bills to receive bigger payments. “They usually get away with it,” Herrera said.

Men can be victims of abuse, too

The group also is asking for equal treatment for men abused by women.

“If a woman files an abuse complaint, the court orders the man to leave the house. But if a man files a complaint, he is the one forced to leave his home, and he will face additional criticism and mockery from members of society. People here talk a lot about gender equality, but it just doesn’t apply to [Costa Rican] men,” Herrera said.

Saturday’s protest also aims to draw attention to National Police protocols for arresting men who are delinquent with alimony or child support payments.

Following his May arrest for failing to pay alimony, William Salas remained handcuffed for two days outside a police station in Quepos.

(Courtesy of FUNDIAPHO)

The foundation has denounced situations that have arisen from these procedures, including one that occurred in May in the South Pacific community of Quepos. In that case, William Salas, 38, was handcuffed for two days to a fenced window at a local police station, following his arrest for failing to pay alimony.

The local police chief at the time justified the measure because police facilities there do not have jail cells. Salas was released after FUNDIAPHO launched a social media campaign to denounce the police action.

Following an investigation, National Police Director Juan José Andrade apologized to Salas, and the Quepos police chief was suspended for two months.

“I accept the apology. But now my wish is that no one should have to go through the drama that I went through. The laws in this country need to be reformed, and each case should be reviewed individually. Court decisions also have prevented me from seeing my 7-year-old daughter,” Salas told members of the foundation who investigated his case.

Four years ago, FUNDIAPHO began offering counseling on a couple of cases a week. Now the group assists an average of 20 cases per day, Herrera said.

Earlier this year, FUNDIAPHO filed a case against the state before the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights, requesting an amendment of Costa Rica’s alimony and child-support laws.

Said Herrera: “Our goal is not to create a men-vs.-women conflict – we know that unfortunately there are abusive men. But there are also abusive women. True gender equality – that’s all we’re asking for.”

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Nicole Brenes

I met men that have to pay incredibly ridiculous amounts of money to women that cheated on them and kicked them out of their houses. And, is that fair?
I know I wouldn’t be able to pay certain amounts I’ve seen without living miserably. Equality should be for everyone.

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Solo Habib

Viva Costa Rica. Fight for you rights, only if this could happen in America.

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Mohammed Ahmed Muniser-saleh

Good for them, tired of these deatbeats mom using the government to force men into paying there ex money well there sitcom there ass half assing raising there kids

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Mohammed Ahmed Muniser-saleh

Well they sit there half assing raising there kids

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James Nunya

Keep up the good work guys!

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Markos Diario

Excellent news!!!!

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N.K. Clark

The child support hustle is EVERYWHERE! http//thechildsupporthustle.com

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Don Blake

Man up and take care of your Women!…..pay your child support, and stop running away from your responsibilites like frightened little boys!……you are just sad little idiots!

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Luis Diego Campos

I wanna see you getting with a gold digger and at no time youll end up with no home,car,kids,money youll be joining these people. Perhaps you should pay more attention of what these group of people are asking nothing that has to do with responsabilities.

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Paul Johnson

Can’t tell if serious…

“Man up…” Such a trite shaming tactic. Women don’t need men to take care of them like little children. If things are in Costa Rica like they are in the United States, women probably have any number of ways to get out of their responsibility — abortion, adoption, legal abandonment. But what do men get? Pay up or go to jail. No way out.

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Daynita

These deadbeat dads are SQUIRMING because the PANI is now using DNA tests and they cannot get “off the hook” as easily as in the old days. Hey Tico fathers: Get some pantalones! Pay your pension and stop whining!

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Luis Diego Campos

It seems that you are mixing 2 diferent issues. These people are asking for equal treatment since laws are too much in favor of women and in many cases women use this advantage to hurt the man and the the sadess part of all, is that the kids dont benefit at all. Nothing that has to do with DNA parental verification and just for you to know, it has been around for years..

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Boipp

BULLCHIT. You retards don’t even have a fingerprint database….or addresses….or working internet-telephony….or equipment in the “clinics” or doctors who know the correct procedure for measuring blood pressure…. You can’t even own a trash can. You put it out front and it gets stolen. Lying, ignorant cowards and prostitutes draped in a false delusion of peace and green_dumb.

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