Domestic violence swindling

There have been several articles on Costa Rican women taking advantage of the Domestic Violence laws lately.  Below is another article from AM Costa Rica.  I have met some of these men myself and it is very sad when they fall head over heals for someone only to be kicked out of their own house when they haven’t even done anything.  Read more below.
By Garland M. Baker Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Women are kicking their mates out of the house in record numbers in Costa Rica. Some of them are enjoying it and using the law designed to protect women against domestic violence to swindle expats. Many expats come to Costa Rica in search of a relationship and end up shooting themselves in the foot by making bad choices. Police in Heredia say women are abusing Law 8589 Article 7. The article states, “In order to protect the victims, they will be able to request, from the start of the complaint, the protective measures contemplated in the law against domestic violence, as well as the necessary precautionary measures foreseen in the penal code of procedure.”

Yes, an expat male — or any male in Costa Rica for that matter — can be tossed out of his own home by his wife or girlfriend by merely having a complaint filed against him by the woman if she says he was being abusive. Abusive, as it stands today, can mean anything, including just raising one’s voice.

Two weeks ago a woman put her expat boyfriend in jail all night when he raised his voice to her adult son — he is over 18 years of age — for popping bubble pack and painting satanic symbols on the wall. The son, who has tested positive for drugs in the past, became vocally abusive, so the expat called 911. When the police arrived, the girlfriend and her son asked the police to take the expat to jail. Officers did so without question. The woman also said that he struggled with the son and bumped into her.

The man who was jailed is the legal owner of the home. The girlfriend took a coat to the expat that night because it was very cold in Heredia. Either she had a guilty conscience or she was looking for information. While at the jail, she spoke with the police, and they gave her pointers on what she should file with the judge the next morning in court. In the morning, the police escorted the tired man from his jail cell to the court. He was lucky, he had a cell phone, and the police let him use it in the patrol car. He called an attorney who met him at court.

The judge told the man that the police would take him to his own house where he could pack two suitcases of essentials but that he had to vacate his home immediately. A police officer escorted the expat and his attorney into the house. While the retired man gathered his belongings, the police officer told the attorney that throwing men — mostly foreign men — out of their homes in Heredia was their daily routine. He said they use to chase robbers and other bad people, but now they were bored because mostly they just deal with domestic violence cases. The police officer further said: “Women in Costa Rica are taking advantage of this new law. They throw out their boyfriend and then steal their things and leave.”

Other women do not leave. They start court cases against expats for damages or palimony to wear them down to get a payoff. The lucky ones get off with the women taking a few TV sets and the women kicking Get out of the house! home computers. At least in these cases the expat can move back into his house. When the girlfriend does not leave the home, expats have a serious problem. They have to file other court cases to get the unwanted tenant out of their house. These processes can take months to years.

Usually, domestic violence injunctions — called medidas here — are for six months. Normally, a judge will not rescind a medida, and the frustrating part is that no one takes an accused man seriously. In most cases, the medidas expire before a judge ever makes a decision. In this case, that of the expat put in jail and thrown out of his house, the man is staying in a hotel. The girlfriend and her son used the words, “my husband” and “my stepdad” in their court complaint. But, in fact, they have no legal relationship with the man. This case looks like it is going to be a long one. The expat feels frustrated and helpless. He may just pack up and leave Costa Rica. Women taking advantage of the law for their personal gain overshadows the reason the laws were passed in the first place.

Many women and some men have died because of domestic violence situations. Some 25 to 30 women die a year on average. There are around 30,000 domestic violence complaints filed a year. A University of Costa Rica study said 58 percent of women interviewed in a survey experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence in the past 16 years. However, there are no firm statistics on how often women use the new laws to end a relationship and take the possessions a man must leave behind. The law, of course, only protects women. A man cannot use this law to get an abusive woman from the home.

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