Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Domestic Violence Bill For Couples Only

August 26, 2005

A bill that would penalize psychological and physical abuse against women will only apply to relationships between couples, and not “relationships of power,”such as in the workplace, as was originally proposed.Legislators announced the change in response to a ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), the daily La Nación reported.In February, the Sala IV ruled that an article in the bill defining relationships of power and trust, as well as subsequent references to such relationships, was unconstitutional.The bill was returned to the assembly’s Constitutional Review Committee, where legislators changed the bill to apply to “de facto marital relationships, declared or not,” instead of “relationships of power.”Regardless of the change, legislators told the daily passing the bill is not a priority. The bill, with its previous wording, was passed in first debate in December 2004 by a vote of 41 votes of 52 legislators present (TT, Dec. 17, 2004).It proposes a penalty of 20-35 years in jail for someone who kills a woman, nearly double the 12-18 years currently applied to homicide convictions.Under the bill, those convicted of violence against women could be imprisoned for six months to three years, and someone convicted of rape could face 12-18 years in jail.The bill has faced an uphill battle; it has been under consideration in the Legislative Assembly since 1999, and various sections have been declared unconstitutional on five occasions.

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