Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Puerto Cabezas and Waspam Rio Coco Communities
The Association of Indigenous Women of the Atlantic (AMICA)
The municipalities of Puerto Cabezas and Waspam Rio Coco, Nicaragua
Violence Against Women, Indigenous women’s Rights
February, 2017 - December, 2018
Despite the introduction of a new law in 2012, violence against women is one of the gravest human rights issues currently taking place in Nicaragua today. More than 60 percent of women in Nicaragua have been victims of physical and sexual abuse. Indigenous Miskitu women living on the North Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua are particularly vulnerable to gender violence. As a result of living in remote and isolated communities, Miskitu women in particular face increasing barriers to access basic support and services to protect themselves. Moreover, with a limited police presence - one police officer per 100 square kilometres- and a local justice system that fails to prosecute and punish offenders, horrendous violations against these women often go unnoticed and unpunished.
Horizons’ partner, the Association of Indigenous Women of the Atlantic (AMICA) is working to unite community forces from the municipalities of Puerto Cabezas and Waspam on the North Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. The project aims to break down the culture and attitudes that perpetuate violence against women.
The organization's staff trains Miskitu women in their first language as women’s rights promoters, and educate them on the new Comprehensive Law on Violence against Women (Law 779) and the Criminal Code Reforms (Law 641). AMICA is also critical in strengthening and consolidating efforts of local organizations to influence the Nicaraguan government, promoting the enforcement of laws, and developing a comprehensive public education program around women’s rights.
- Training 49 women’s rights promoters, who dedicated their time to resolving issues of violence within their communities.
- Providing legal advice to 64 women and their families on gender violence cases.
- Hosting a forum on the fight to prevent violence against women in Waspam Rio Coco with the active participation of the municipality's mayor, judges, national police, and women.
In Their Own Words
Imperia Ralph Mesa, 21 years old, from La Esperanza Rio Wawa Community:
"At 13 years of age, I didn’t know my rights. My mother and father had very little economic resources. An older man raped me, got me pregnant and forced me to come live with him. At 13 years of age I had my first child. The man abused me and then abandoned me and I had to raise my son by myself.
At 15, I became pregnant again with my second son. I needed to work very hard as a housemaid in order to care for my children. These were some of the worst moments of my life. I didn’t have support from anyone. My parents had disowned me and I had to walk through the streets looking for help.
I had to give my son to his father to raise and my second child I have to my mother to look after so that I could look for work and find a way to go back to school to become someone different. Up until this point I was completely unaware of my rights as a woman.
I started to attend talks in my community that AMICA gave to train youth and my life started to change a little bit. I realized I had rights as a woman and that there was Law 779 to protect women from violence. I learned about self-esteem, gender violence, reproductive health and sexually transmitted illnesses. I started to work and study and was able to finish high school. Before the support of AMICA, my life was in chaos. With their help I was able to learn about my rights and become part of a network of community women defending the rights of Indigenous women."