By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Domestic workers and children will benefit from unrelated developments
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