In relating the story of Lucha Zapada and the apparent suicide of her 16-year-old granddaughter that to all her instincts of seeing her. bleeding out on the sidewalk while ‘cruzrojistas’ (paramedics) worked on her, she was murdered, a report in La Nacion reveals 19 young girls, all minors, were victims of femicide in the last six years.
The number represents 13% of all of the 145 femicides in the country between January 2013 and December 2018.
According to data from the Observatorio de Género del Poder Judicial (Gender Observatory of the Judiciary) and the judicial yearbooks of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), of the 14 femicides, 19 were of women under 18 years of age or minors.
This figure includes minors who died victims of their partners (as in significant others), daughters who were killed along with their mothers and girls who died during rape or abuse.
Methods used by the killers
The data reveals that the most frequent way in which these minors were killed was by stabbing (6), followed by strangulation, gunshot and beaten (3 of each), smothered (2), beaten (1) and one unspecified.
Deaths by province
47% of the femicides of minors occurred in the provinces of Alajuela with five victims and San José with four, three each in Guanacaste and Puntarenas, and two each in Heredia and Limon. While in Cartago there was no femicide of minors, between 2013 and 2018.
Most violent years
2014 and 2015 were the years in which there were the most femicides of minors, with four cases each year.
Age of the victims
The minors victims of femicides where mostly between 11 and 18 years of age. From 11 to 15 and from 16 to 17, six were registered in each range, while from 0 to 5 years there were four cases and from 6 to 10, three.
Fiorella (Zapata’s granddaughter, which the La Nacion reports is based on) apparently had a relationship with a man, her killer, who was six years older than she.
The trigger in the majority of femicides where the victim is a minor is intrafamily violence, followed by the so-called “improper relations”.
The data reveals that in the 19 cases, eight of the femicides were committed by the father or stepfather and five by boyfriend (or girlfriend) of the victim. In three of the cases, the young girl’s mother was also the victim in the violence.
Four other femicides were perpetrated by unknown persons and in one of them, the murderer was known to the family, while another of the victims was killed by her brother-in-law.
“There is a concrete risk that in femicides, the attacker also lashes out at the children (…). Maybe in Costa Rica we have not seen it, but in other countries men first kill children because they know that this is the most direct way to harm women.
“Other risk factors for minors are when a child tries to defend his mother and in that context dies,” said Ana Hidalgo, coordinator of the Área de Violencia de Género del Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (Inamu) – Area of Gender Violence of the National Institute of Women.
“Other risk factors for minors are when a child tries to defend his mother and in that context dies,” added Hidalgo.