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NICARAGUA
Violence against women
5/2/2013
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High rates of rape and femicide unresolved and ignored by the government.

In the past five years the situation of women in Nicaragua has worsened without firm response from the government. The offenders enjoy impunity, while the victims of rape or violence are said to provoke the crimes and are often further assaulted by police officers.

The situation is alarming, especially since sexual violence against children and young teenage girls is also on the rise. Eighty-four percent of registered sexual violence has females under the age of 17 as victims. The official age of consent is 14; however none of the 1,453 births given in 2012 by mothers between 10 and 14 years old were investigated, ensures the Autonomous Movement of Women of Nicaragua (MAM).

In a hearing before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), held on March 12, Azahálea Solís, an attorney and MAM representative, said there were 85 counts of femicides in 2012, but only 27 of the attackers were brought into custody and only 4 were sentenced to prison. Thirteen of those women had tried to file charges unsuccessfully at the officials and was not granted any support or guarantee of safety, which could have saved their lives.

Solís also mentioned that particularly worrying is the fact that sexual violence often comes together with political violence. She cites a case from November 2012 in which there was a case of young women demonstrating against the government party because of alleged election fraud. After being arrested they got tortured and threatened with rape, an action that has not been investigated to date.

Violeta Delgado, an expert in women’s rights and member of MAM, pointed out in the same hearing the high occurrence of prostitution and sex trafficking as well as use of women as dug mules. According to Delgado, there are hardly any investigations or sentences on trafficking on the part of the official commissions and institutions. Also due to the high corruption of the state, this business prospers unhindered.

Because of the lack of effective actions to prevent violence against women or of measures to help the victims on the part of the state, some private organizations were founded by women in order to help the victims. These organizations offer the help of psychologists and attorneys to support the victims and help them to press charges, so that they can be heard. Out of more than 50 such organizations (including 11 shelters for women), only one is governmental.

Amnesty International, in the 2010 report “Listen to their Voice and Act: Stop the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Girls in Nicaragua,” points out relatives and people in power as the most commonly reported perpetrators of sexual violence against girls. The home is also identified as a dangerous place due to the pressure to remain silent by relatives. The report states that “too many girls are dropping out of school, giving up on work or even attempting suicide. They need to be supported to leave behind the traumas of their childhood.”

An additional burden for rape victims is that from 2008, abortion is banned in all cases (including the case of life-saving termination). Now under the threat of imprisonment underage rape victims are obligated to carry out their child.

Nicaragua is considered the poorest country in Central America after Guatemala, with one of the highest birth rates in the region. Unemployment and poverty are widespread. According to the UN Development Program, more than 46 percent of the population of Nicaragua lives below the poverty line.
—Latinamerica Press.


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