Nicaragua: Fighting Impunity in Cases of Gender-Based Violence
Rosa, an Indigenous Miskitu girl, was 14 years-old when she was raped by a taxi-driver on her way home from school. She was usually accompanied home by a family friend but that day he did not show up. A taxi-driver, seeing her alone, offered her a ride. But instead of taking her home, he brought her to his house where he raped her.
When Rosa’s older sister and guardian, Delina, confronted her sister’s attacker, a 23 year-old man, he offered to either marry her younger sister or to pay for the harm he caused her. A police official told Delina that she should take the money that the perpetrator was offering because they would likely lose the case in court.
Impunity continues to be a widespread problem when dealing with perpetrators of gender-based violence in Nicaragua. According to data from the Nicaraguan NGO, Catholics for the Right to Choose, there are over 10 cases of impunity for men who have killed women so far in 2017. In their report, they observed that authorities do not complete their investigations in a timely manner or overlook causes of death, such as the case of Ana Carolina Granera. Despite Granera being found with clear beatings to the face, neck and back, the coroner declared cause of death to be drowning. However, when the family insisted a more thorough examination it was discovered that Granera died from strangulation.
There have been great efforts to demand conviction of gender-violence perpetrators by different women’s movements, including Horizons’ local partner the Association of Women of the Atlantic Coast (AMICA). In 2012, AMICA’s advocacy helped pass the Comprehensive Law on Violence against Women (Law 779) which strengthens the protection of victims and creates an avenue for women to seek justice in such cases of violence against women. Despite these advances, lack of resources to implement this law, inadequate awareness of its purpose and women’s fear of retribution diminish the law’s effectiveness.
Although there are major challenges to ending impunity in Nicaragua, women’s movements continue to advocate for the eradication of gender-based violence and support women who have fallen victim to violence.
After Delina received the negative response from the police official attending to her sister’s case, her boss told her about AMICA and how they help women who have experienced violence. Specifically, AMICA works on the North Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua, where the majority of the population is Indigenous Miskitu, one of the most impoverished and marginalized populations in the country. They provide free legal assistance for victims seeking justice against their attackers. They also train women and girls on women’s rights, including information on Law 779 and their right to a life free of violence. These women then act as Promoters within their communities, sharing the information they have learned and helping other women and girls access AMICA’s services.
Delina was so thankful for AMICA taking on her sister’s case. They explained in her native Miskitu language the rights of her and her sister and how the police are obligated to charge Rosa’s attacker, especially because she was a minor. AMICA has taken on Rosa’s case and they hope that the justice system will find her perpetrator guilty. They are also making sure that Rosa receives the help and counselling she needs to help recover from the trauma of her attack.