The rate of domestic violence in Costa Rica rose from 20.8 cases per 10,000 inhabitants in 2013 to 27.3 per 10,000 inhabitants in 2015.
Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Women's Minister Patricia Mora Castellanos have signed a decree implementing a state of national emergency in response to skyrocketing rates of gender and domestic violence against women.
"We have to raise our voices so this human rights violation stops," said Mora Castellanos at the presidential palace, accompanied by female cabinet members and several lawmakers.
The decree implements about 40 measures and programs to address gender violence at state level, including the creation of shelters for women and children, local committees for immediate action and detection of gender violence.
A "change in mentalities" is also necessary besides the emergency plan to eradicate gender violence in the long term, Castellanos said.
The move follows more than 20 women's rights groups urging the government to take radical measures after the country registered 14 femicides so far this year.
According to recent U.N. reports, rampant domestic violence is forcing women to flee their homes in Central America.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people – including women and children traveling alone – leave the region. Among the most affected areas are the 'Northern Triangle' nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
According to Costa Rica's Justice Investigation Bureau, over 1,000 women have filed complaints about sexual abuse in the past two years –primarily females between 12 and 17 years old. In about half of the cases, the victims said they had been abused by a relative or friend.