top of page

Costa Rica

Population Size:


Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

2016: 25% domestic violence patients were seen at Caja hospitals with women accounting for 52% of all cases.[2] Of these, most victims were adolescents or adults between the age of 20-39. Of the male patients, most were children or adolescents under 19. The most common forms of violence among all adolescents, girls and boys, were sexual abuse and neglect.

Geographically, the highest rates of domestic violence were seen in rural areas. The Puntarenas canton of Quepos topped the list with 101 domestic violence cases per 10,000 inhabitants. Turrubares in San José province was second with 98 cases per 10,000 inhabitants, followed by Los Chiles in Alajuela and the Cartago cantons of Jiménez and El Guarco.[3]

2011 - 2012: According to the Costa Rican Department of Police Intelligence, during the first 3 months of 2012 alone, law enforcement received an average of 222 reports of domestic violence per day. This amounted to a total of 19,975 domestic violence cases; 5,195 cases more than was reported in the first 3 months of 2011.[4]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

No research.

Current Law and Policy:

The government of Costa Rica pledges to reduce violence against women as a national priority and is a signatory of the 1994 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women. Costa Rica passed a Domestic Violence Law in 1996.[5] Costa Rica has also formed a National Plan to Treat and Prevent Intra-Family Violence coordinated by the National Centre for the Development of Women and the Family. 1997 of the National System for the Care and Prevention of Domestic Violence. However, it was found in 2017 that these plans lacked capacity, budget and the structure to coordinate movement and improve quality. In 2018 Costa Rica declared a national state of emergency in response to increasing domestic violence rates.



[1] The World Bank, (1).

[2] The Tico Times, 13 April 2016.

[3] Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, “Homepage”, (