Time was when government officials and child protection agency workers saw the arrival of single male tourists as the major threat to underage Costa Rican women.
There were campaigns by such organizations as the non-profit Fundación Paniamor and the government”s Patronato Nacional de la Infancia. The U.S. government coughed up funds and still does to offset the national guilt over the bad behaviors of its male citizens here. The airports were draped with warnings.
In the United States even the Federal Bureau of Investigation set up fake sex tourism Web sites offering introductions with children, even though some lawyers considered this entrapment.
In a couple of key court cases, expats received long prison terms for corrupting or attempting to corrupt the morals of minors in both Costa Rica and the United States.
A lot of time passed before the agencies, organizations and bureaucrats realized that their problem was home-grown. Now they are trying to do something about it.
An example is the campaign by the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia that says there are age limits for intimate relations between youngsters and adults. The agency points out that 88 percent of the underaged pregnant women got that way as a result of a relationship with an adult male.
The campaign is Para el amor si hay edad, translated as “For love there is an age.”
The agency hired an ad firm to create a television commercial. The video features an adult man talking by cell telephone to his schoolgirl sweetheart, encouraging her to ditch classes and join him on a drinking spree to celebrate his birthday.
Of course the man is speaking loudly in public, and those around
him cannot help but to understand what is going on. Some challenge him. The video is HERE!
What would you do if you heard an adult seducing a minor, the Patronato asks. The answer, of course, is to dial 911. The agency notes that such relationships frequently involve an abuse of power and authority.
The agency also is in the process of setting up a special Web site for young mothers. It is www.Olakease.cr. The goal is to encourage interaction and to urge the young women to continue with their studies.
Most expat tourists realize by now that there are severe penalties for being involved with a minor. And the most recent arrests involve Costa Ricans running prostitution setups in rural areas.