Casa Presidencial has promised a men’s rights advocacy group that it will form a new interagency commission to study legal imbalances in domestic abuse, custody rights and child support policy in Costa Rica.
President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration on Monday related the news to members of the Foundation to Support Men (FUNDIAPHO), which last week marched from their offices in the northeastern San José suburb of Guadalupe to Solís’ residence in Barrio Escalante, east of the capital.
FUNDIAPHO Director Miguel Herrera Córdoba said presidential adviser Luis Emilio Jiménez told him Solís had accepted the group’s proposal for the commission’s creation. A follow-up meeting was scheduled for Oct. 14.
“A new era will soon begin for Ticos and Costa Rican society,” Herrera told The Tico Times. “We are extremely excited, and we hope to finally achieve true gender equality.”
One of FUNDIAPHO’s primary complaints is the unbalanced treatment of men in the country’s court system.
“Women who are victims of abuse are offered free counseling and health care. Abused men, meanwhile, get nothing,” Herrera said.
During last week’s protest, members of the group noted that Costa Rica has adopted several laws to protect women and children from domestic violence, and to ensure that men are held responsible for child support. But no legislation has been passed to protect men’s rights, they said.
“We know that there are abusive men. But there are also abusive women, and that number is increasing,” Herrera said last June during a protest outside the Supreme Court.
About one in five domestic abuse victims in Costa Rica are men, according to the number of criminal complaints filed each year. In 2012, the judicial branch registered approximately 50,000 domestic violence complaints. Of those, 11,000 were filed by men.
“Costa Rica’s laws are imbalanced,” Herrera said. “They provide preventive measures ordering men to leave their homes, even if the men are the ones being abused. [Laws] also call for imprisonment for failing to pay alimony.”
Approximately 300 men are in prison in Costa Rica for failing to pay child support or alimony, according to the foundation.
Earlier this year, FUNDIAPHO sued the government at the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights to push for reforms to alimony and child-support laws.
Alejandra Mora, executive president of the National Institute for Women, agreed that violence against men exists in Costa Rica, although “to a lesser degree when compared to aggression against women.”