COSTA RICA NEWS – Having a relationship (sex) with a minor is on the increase according to the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI), Costa Rica’s child welfare agency.
The increase in the number of complaints is a result of the media campaing “(para el amor sí hay edad” (for love there is an age), in which the PANI seeks to encourage the reporting of sexual relationships between adults and minors.
The age of majority in Costa Rica is 18. However, a minor between 15 and 17 of age can enter into a sexual relationship with an adult (a person 18 or over) with the consent of the parents or guardians.
According to Rodolfo Meneses, PANI’s counseling and information centre.the PANI has seen allegations soar.
“Yes we have seen a increase in complaints. Even by way of the social media like Facebook we have been alerted to situations,” said Meneses.
Other public institutions working on eradicating the sex with minors problem is the Ministerio de Educación Pública (MEP) – Ministry of Public Education, the la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Social Security, hospitals and the judiciary.
Meneses says that the PANI takes care in keeping the confidentiality and identity of the minors private, investigating cases of possible abuses and taking legal actions, under the Penal Code, for offenders.
The official says that the PANI does not investigate every complaint because in some cases, like where the minor is 15 years of age and over their parents or guardians are consenting to the relationship with the adult.
Meneses says that cases are investigated when the parents themselves are the impellling force for their adolescent’s sexual development and push the minor (usually girls) to have a relationship with an adult, including going to live with her partner, and in even sometimes for financial gain or other reward. The last part is punishable under the Penal Code.
According to Meneses, the PANI intervenes in cases where the parents do not fulfill their role responsibly and taking legal action where warranted or necessary, for the protection of the minor.
Besides the official PANI Facebook page, “denuncias” (complaints) can be made directly to 800 226 2626 or 911.
Sources: CRHoy; PANI; Facebook