Domestic workers and children will benefit from unrelated developments outlined Wednesday.
Domestic workers will receive the right to organize, according to the Asociación de Trabajadoras Domésticas. This is because Convention 189 of the International Labour Organization goes into effect Jan. 14.
Costa Rica already has approved and adopted the international treaty.
Children will benefit from a new campaign, Educa sin Pegar, to prohibit corporal punishment in the home. The campaign is by the Consejo Nacional de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, the Fundación PANIAMOR and the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. The major development is the launching of a Web page that provides resources and allows citizens to file complaints.
Costa Rica has outlawed corporal punishment of children since 2008. But just like the laws involving domestic workers, enforcement is lax.
There are estimates that perhaps only 15 percent of domestic workers have full employment benefits, including affiliation with the Caja. The labor organization convention also promotes the use of a valid legal contract for domestic employment, particularly if the job involved moving from one country to another.
Many domestic employees here are Nicaraguans.
Costa Rica has a number of national laws that are similar to the specifics in the international convention, yet many domestic workers accept poor pay and extra working hours because they fear losing the position. The labor organization also has issued stipulations about under age domestic workers. There are plenty of those here also.
The campaign against physically punishing a child touches on an area that is culturally sensitive. Parents can easily cite the Bible to defend spanking wayward offspring.
For example, Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” There are other similar passages attributed to Solomon.
Yet corporal punishment for children and adults has been criticized for more than 2,000 years.
The 2008 law specifically says that parent authority confers the rights and imposes the duties of educating, watching and disciplining sons and daughters but it does not authorize in any case the use of corporal punishment or any other form of humiliating treatment.
Then-president Laura Chinchilla signed off on the new law, No. 8654, Aug. 1, 2008, and Costa Rica became one of 42 countries that prohibit this type of punishment in the home. Many more countries prohibit physical punishment in schools or in prisons.
There have not been any well-publicized cases of corporal punishment since the law went into effect.
The new Web page for the “educate without hitting” campaign contains various laws and instructions for parents. An announcement says it seeks to encourage respectful upbringing and to mobilize the community to protect children. The nation’s child protection agency, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, also is involved.
The campaign probably will run into criticism because adolescent crime is on the rise. There even are youngsters facing premeditated murder allegations. The juvenile justice system is secret, so there has not been a recent independent evaluation. However some shelters operated by the Patronato sometimes make the news due to destructive vandalism from youthful residents.