Domestic violence laws in Costa Rica seem to work when they should not and seemly do not work when they should. The law is also in direct contradiction to Article 52 of Costa Rica’s Constitution which states, “El matrimonio es la base esencial de la familia y descansa en la igualdad de derechos de los cónyuges.” This translates into English as, “Marriage is the essential element of family and can rest in the equality of the spouses.”
In fact, the domestic violence laws of this country tear a family apart on the slightest whim of a spouse. A few tears and without any kind of witnesses, a judge will throw a spouse out on the street. The minimum forced separation is six months, and usually the initial court audience where parties can be heard by a judge is at least a month after the eviction of the presumed guilty party.
Now this is even more interesting: Article 51 of Costa Rica’s Constitution states, “La familia, como elemento natural y fundamento de la sociedad, tiene derecho a la protección especial del Estado. Igualmente tendrán derecho a esa protección la madre, el niño, el anciano y el enfermo desvalido.”
This translates into English as, “The family, as a natural and fundamental element of society has the right to special protection of the State. Equally, this right protects the mother, the children, older people and the disabled.”
Read closely, this article leaves out the man. So, according to Costa Rica, the man is not an important part to a marriage and has no special rights.
This is in direct contrast to Article 33 of the Constitution which reads, ” Toda persona es igual ante la ley y no podrá hacerse discriminación alguna contraria a la dignidad humana.” This translates into English as, “All people are equal in front of the law and cannot be discriminated against.”
These articles of the Costa Rican Constitution seem to mean all people are equal in front of the law except for men in marriage. This travesty is now commonly known among women. Most of them know they have their spouse at their mercy and can use the law to get almost anything they want.
This is very apparent in domestic violence court. Most men are treated poorly and considered guilty before having any say in a domestic violence case.
The best strategy for a man being dragged in this type of situation is to reject the charges but accept the medidas cartulares or restrictions put on him by a judge. This is so because probably no matter what he says, it will not make any difference in the hearing. Usually, but not always, by rejecting the charges and accepting the restriction there will be no hearing.
Many men are taken to domestic violence court on trumped up charges, but most attorneys agree 90 percent of them will lose in any hearing. If these statistics are correct, why would any man want to go through with an audience in front of a judge? Many of the judges in these courts are women with their own chips on their shoulders, and all they do is drag the presumed aggressor through a diatribe of scolding.
Domestic violence is real and women and men get hurt. Some even die horrible deaths at the hands of an aggressor. But, what has happened in Costa Rica is that a spouse that really wants to hurt his mate in many cases ends up doing it anyway. The law does not work when it should. The reality of the law is that women use it to humiliate and extort from men, meaning it works when it should not. This thesis is based on observation of a number of such cases.
Most importantly, the law destroys family. What man would want to go back to his home after six months after he has been tossed out onto the street with nothing except the cloths on his back? In most cases, family is made of the husband, the wife, kids and even dogs and cats. Yes, the good old concept of family.
Now let us take a true case where the woman in this typical family wants more money for more pretty things. The man balks and a discussion about family budgets arise in these hard times. The wife gets disgruntled and makes a complaint in front of a domestic violence judge with a few tears in her eyes, and the man is in the street in hours. Women in Costa Rica know they can do this. They know they can actually extort from man to get what they want using the domestic violence laws of this country.
In most cases the family goes too. The man is on the street for the minimum of six months with no communication with his wife, children, or even the dogs and the cats. Does anyone really think most of them want to go back to this kind of lifestyle?
In summary — and important points to ponder — in domestic violence cases in Costa Rica the man is thrown out of his home with no hearing, no rights, no say whatsoever. He will have no say until a hearing which is usually months after the action of eviction. In the hearing, he is presumed guilty and usually only gets a verbal beating from the judge. He needs to fend for himself for a minimum of six months with no contact with his family.
Do the domestic violence laws of Costa Rica preserve Article 52 of Costa Rica’s constitution which states the marriage is the essential element of family and spouses are equal?
True domestic violence is abominable and it needs to be sanctioned. But, so should the misuse of domestic violence laws that are used in themselves a method of coercion and intimidation and end up destroying families.