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Gender and Domestic Violence in Costa Rica

Gender and Domestic Violence in Costa Rica

Domestic violence is any physical, psicological, sexual or patrimonial mistreatment inside the household or between family.


In Costa Rica, there’s the Law Against Domestic Violence since 1996 that protects victims, specially women, kids, elders and disabled people that includes protection measures and there’s also a Family Court in charge of the cases related to domestic violence.


In a way, it is great that this law exists because statistics show that between 2016 and 2020, 341.382 protection measures were requested, that means that 186 are being placed daily on average. Mostly women against men ranging from the significant other to relatives.


The following graphic shows the 2020 statistics related to protection measures requests. In the right one we can see the numbers for aggressors ( 9318-20% women and 37501-80% men) and in the left one we can see the numbers for victims (48836-79% women and 12647-21% men).


medidas de proteccion segun sexo

Next we have a 2020 graphic showing alleged aggressors by province in Costa Rica where black represents men and orange represents women. As it is revealed, San José has the most shocking numbers and coastal provinces are the lowest for domestic violence.


medidas de proteccion segun sexo segun provincia

In front of this abysmal difference regarding the clear gender violence, Justice and Peace Ministry, Defense of the Inhabitants, INEC, Emergency System 9-1-1 and the INAMU created in 2008 an information system called SUMEVIG to make statistics and look for patterns such as magnitude, dimensions, characteristics and impact of domestic and gender violence so it can be controlled and the country has the tools to fight against it. Between 2006 and 2007, before it was launched, 22 specific indicators were designed so information can be better processed.


INAMU is the Women National Institute. It is in charge of women’s human rights as their autonomy, inclusion, empowerment and the fight against domestic and gender violence in Costa Rica. It is part of the government so the most important function of this entity is to make sure that there are policies and laws that protect women in vulnerability as well as their rights in the legal matters and to promote gender equality and women’s situation in the country. It is also committed to achieve more social, political, cultural and economic women participation. Right now INAMU has 80 branches to cover all Costa Rica with offices and refuges.


Regarding femicides, in 2020 there were 47 where 6 were homicides, 3 were femicides and 38 are pending to classify. Sometimes it takes around a year to be declared a femicide using an ONU women and UNHR protocol.


This information might be scary but entities like the OIJ are working really hard for domestic and gender violence in Costa Rica. We are optimistic that with all the efforts made by different entities (public and private) this cultural problem is going to vanish.




Karen Ebanks

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