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Costa Rica launches ‘mega-operative’ to reduce domestic violence during soccer final

Costa Rica’s Public Security Ministry launched what it calls a “mega-operative” to reduce domestic violence on the days of the country’s soccer final, the organization said Tuesday in a press conference.

The announcement, which included representatives from the National Institute for Women (INAMU), National Police, C.S. Herediano and Deportivo Saprissa, detailed the joint efforts that will begin during the days prior to the matches.

The strategy includes creating a registry of domestic-violence incidents to help police identify populations at a higher risk of being revictimized. The National Police will also increase patrols in areas they have identified as having higher occurrences of domestic violence.

INAMU has said that police in Costa Rica receive an average of 150 more domestic-violence calls on soccer game days.

“Violence against women is a problem that is affecting our country,” Michael Soto Rojas, the Minister of Public Security, said Tuesday. “To counteract this problem, institutions must seek different strategies. Preemptive police work focused on cases where there is an imminent risk of recidivism is one way to combat this phenomenon.”

The organizations will also launch coordinated social-media efforts denouncing domestic violence and encouraging the public to report any incident to authorities.

In August, the government of Costa Rica declared that reducing violence against women is “a national priority” following several high-profile murders. Earlier this month, Carla Stefaniak, a tourist visiting from the United States, was killed; the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) suspect a “sexual” motive, according to ABC News 10.

INAMU has previously organized efforts to curb domestic violence during soccer matches. In 2015, the “Tercer Marcador” — a third column on the televised scoreboard — tracked the amount of calls police had received throughout a Costa Rican national team game. By the final whistle, the number had surpassed 30.

C.S. Herediano hosts Deportivo Saprissa in the first leg of the Apertura final on Dec. 16.

Call 9-1-1 to report domestic violence in Costa Rica. The 9-1-1 operator can also connect you to COAVIF, which offers support to victims.  

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