Costa Rica has a reputation as one of the more developed countries on a continent of struggling nations. The through-the-roof literacy rate, progressive ecological agenda, and political stability sans military has earned Costa Rica the title “the Switzerland of Latin America.” Like all developing nations, their continued prosperity lies in attracting valuable foreign investments to build their infrastructure. In part this is why Costa Rica has emerged in the last few decades as a popular tourist destination. It offers exotic but safe (read: free from drug related gang violence) Latin American culture, stunning national parks, and world class surfing. However, Costa Rica’s tourism industry has demonstrated a disturbing trend: the majority of its tourists are single men. Implied in this demographic is a booming sex-tourism industry that piggy-backs on the legitimate tourist attractions, and consequently mars Costa Rica’s reputation by drawing frequent parallels to the infamous child prostitution scourges of Thailand and the Phillippines.
That said, Costa Rica’s capitol city, San Jose, is an axis of various fault lines of oppression and exploitation that can result in seismic devastation for countless women and children. While sex with a minor (younger than 18) is illegal, the laws fail to reach the rural regions surrounding San Jose where the prevailing machismo pressures men to prey sexually upon adolescent girls, and forces girls to accept it. Machismo is reinforced by a cultic version of “Catholicism,” the dominant faith of the region, that yokes abused women to the shame associated with the abuse suffered at the hands of their uncles, husbands, fathers, and other male relations. Beyond that, Costa Rica has seen a spike in the immigration of western ex-patriates, men who move to Costa Rica to enjoy a lifestyle of, among other things, prostitution free of the stigma they find in western nations. Of course, it takes a deep and stylized self-delusion to convince themselves that they are not exploiting an already abused population of women, and yet an entire district in San Jose, known as “Gringo Gulch,” is full of aging “sex-patriates” who have done just that.
Extending from Gringo Gulch in concentric circles are districts of many different sexual perversions. These include mainstream brothels that cater to rich westerners, homosexual and transvestite districts, and seedier dens and clubs that almost certainly feature enslaved, trafficked, women who come from the surrounding, poorer Latin American countries. Perhaps most disturbing is the high population of street children that roam the streets of San Jose. By a familiar and dark osmosis that you can see the world over, these children are driven from their rural homes because of abuse and alcoholism and even murdered parents, to the city center of Costa Rica. Here, they are easy prey for traffickers, pimps, and crack heads, sold at a bargain basement rates, and bound to lifestyles of drugs and sex which so easily go hand in hand.
The Rahab Foundation (Fundación Rahab) http://www.fundacionrahabcr.org
This Christ-Based shelter in San Jose ministers to women who have been victimized by the sex trade at all levels, whether children, adolescents, or adults.
- Pray for revival in San Jose. A whole sale, comprehensive culture shift is the only viable long term solution to the problems that plague Costa Rica.
- Pray for righteous laws, that prostitution would deemed illegal and immoral and destructive to all cultures.
- Pray for the release of enslaved women and children through the cooperation of righteous police forces.V