The hidden horror of household rapes came to light again this week with an allegation that a 12-year old had become pregnant after relations with her father.
Coincidentally, the Poder Judicial also reported actions in similar cases involving minors being violated by those in the same household.
The case of the 12-year old is certain to generate calls for legalized abortion in Costa Rica. Casa Presidencial weighed in on the case Wednesday afternoon urging criminal action in such cases and respect for the dignity of victims.
Wednesday the Poder Judicial reported that the Heredia criminal court gave a 32-year prison sentence to Ricardo Aburto García in a case involving the rape and repeated sexual abuse of a niece, who was between 8 and 10 at the times. The Santa Bárbara de Heredia case took place at the home of the child’s aunt where the man was left alone with the girl.
The Poder Judicial also reported that the criminal court in Pavas had ordered three months of preventative detention against a man with the last names of Solera Matamoros, who faces an allegation of rape involving a stepdaughter. The judiciary said the case stems from 2009 in Santa Ana when the man lived in the same home with the girl, who also was described as being disabled.
The allegation is that the rapes lasted for seven years until the girl’s mother learned of the situation.
There is a steady stream of such cases, but most do not make the newspapers or television news. An exception is when the child ends up pregnant at an early age. A 9-year-old Nicaraguan child made the news when her pregnancy became known in 2003. Investigators detained a neighbor who was later cleared.
The girl continued in the news because her parents took her to their home country of Nicaragua where she received a legal abortion.
Statistics show that more than 1,000 teens between 14 and 16 were listed as rape victims in the last 10 years. Not all of them were victims of relatives or the boyfriends of their mother. Many more cases probably were not reported.
Early pregnancy can have a life-long impact on a woman’s health, medical experts point out.
Local television disclosed the case of the pregnant 12-year old.
Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría, the second vice president, responded Wednesday with her call to treat the case with rigor and not to allow impunity.
Her statement was joined by those from the
There are many implications of early pregnancy
Patronato Nacional de la Infancia and the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres.
Alejandra Mora Mora of the latter agency praised the valor of the girl’s mother for reporting the case and breaking the silence that characterizes violence against women.
The statement did not mention abortion, but a lawyer from a human rights organization did. The lawyer, Larissa Arroyo Navarrete, issued a statement on behalf of the Acción Estratégica por los Derechos Humanos and said that abortion would be legal in this case. She based her argument on Costa Rican law that allows abortion when there is danger to the life or health of the woman and no other methods are available.
Others many not agree with the lawyer’s interpretation. The U.N. Human Rights Committee has recommended that Costa Rica permit abortion when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or when the unborn child suffers some fatal malformation.
Changing the current law would be highly controversial with the Catholic Church, among other entities, in strong opposition.
The problem of incest is not just a Costa Rican phenomenon, but the many incidents are not mentioned frequently and there are cultural implications. The Poder Judicial maintains an interview room for children in the building occupied by the Judicial Investigating Organization. The room contains shelves full of stuffed animals and plush toys to make a child feel comfortable.
Investigators and social workers are well aware of the extent of the problem. But staffers at the U.S. Embassy appear not to be.
The U.S. government invests substantial sums to fight the specter of underage sex tourism even though there is little proof of that, based on the government’s own statistics