Sexual Violence Against Girls in Nicaragua Widespread

Rosmery, a young survivor of sexual violence at age 12, draws her hopes for the future represented by a tree which marks her past, present and future.

In Nicaragua, rape and sexual abuse are widespread, and the majority of the victims are young and female.  More than two thirds of all rapes reported between 1998 and 2008 were committed against girls under the age of 17, and nearly half of victims were under age 14.

Though there is overwhelming evidence of widespread sexual abuse in the country, and five UN expert committees have called on the government to address the issue of violence against women and girls, the Nicaraguan government is still failing to treat this human rights emergency with the urgency that it deserves.

Last week, Amnesty International published a report on sexual violence against girls in Nicaragua. The report highlights that information on preventing and responding to abuse for those at risk or suffering from sexual violence is difficult, if not impossible to find, leaving many girls trapped in abusive situations with no clear escape.  Further, the stigma associated with sexual crimes means that it’s often the survivor – not the abuser – who is blamed, and young survivors of rape or sexual abuse get little to no government support to rebuild their lives.

The report also notes that, for girls who find the strength to speak out against the violence they have suffered, the struggle for justice can be traumatic.  Failures and a lack of resources in the justice system mean that cases often collapse and attackers go free.  Though the Nicaraguan Supreme Court published a protocol of conduct for crimes involving domestic violence and sexual assault, the protocols are not always adequately applied by state officials, and funding for justice officials’ work on sexual abuse cases is insufficient.

Some young survivors face the additional trauma of discovering that they have been made pregnant by their rapist.  For those girls who wish to carry the pregnancy to term, there is little or no state support to rebuild the hopes and dreams they had for the future.  For others, the idea of giving birth to a child as the result of rape is unbearable; however, as Amnesty documented last year, a 2008 law criminalizing all forms of abortion in all circumstances – even for child rape victims – has left them with no other legal choice.

The failure of government officials to respond to the human rights crisis of sexual violence against girls is unacceptable.  The government of Nicaragua has a duty to fulfill its obligations to prevent sexual violence against girls in Nicaragua, to protect young survivors, and to guarantee that survivors receive justice and reparation.  We must demand that they fulfill this duty.

November 25 to December 10 is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence – so the time is now to take action against gender violence around the world.  You can help protect the rights of women and girls to be free from violence by demanding that the Nicaraguan government protect girls from sexual violence, insisting that the Indonesian government protect the reproductive and labor rights of female domestic workers in Indonesia, and by urging your legislators to pass the International Violence Against Women Act and ratify CEDAW.

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12 thoughts on “Sexual Violence Against Girls in Nicaragua Widespread

  1. It is my understanding that there was a law in Nicaragua that says that if a man rapes a woman he can get the charges dropped if he marries her. Do you know whether this law is still on the books? It was as of 2003.

  2. So much suffering in this world … barbarity committed by men!
    And we … we are left helpless indignation and outrage,
    But who … more than these girls feel this pain?
    Who will repay them the shattered lives … in mind and body?
    In these moments … I feel ashamed to belong to the human race there!
    It is worth asking: – Race or sub-human race?
    Acts answer the question!

  3. Betsy Campisi – actually believe that's the solution?
    Besides raped still have to marry the rapist told?
    In my view it is inconceivable … was a double punishment for the victim!!!

  4. It is my understanding that there was a law in Nicaragua that says that if a man rapes a woman he can get the charges dropped if he marries her. Do you know whether this law is still on the books? It was as of 2003.

  5. So much suffering in this world … barbarity committed by men!
    And we … we are left helpless indignation and outrage,
    But who … more than these girls feel this pain?
    Who will repay them the shattered lives … in mind and body?
    In these moments … I feel ashamed to belong to the human race there!
    It is worth asking: – Race or sub-human race?
    Acts answer the question!

  6. Betsy Campisi – actually believe that’s the solution?
    Besides raped still have to marry the rapist told?
    In my view it is inconceivable … was a double punishment for the victim!!!

  7. & live with him for the rest of her life ???

    & see his face every morning ???

    & be raped by him every night… til he loses any interest in her ?? ???

    Feel ashamed to belong to the human race there ?

    i feel ashamed to belong to the human race everywhere !!

    & i don't.

  8. How could any of you believe that I was suggesting this was a GOOD thing???? That is completely outrageous. The fact the Nicaragua could have such an abomination on the books reflects social values that show up in these hideous rape statistics. I was only asking the question to see if it was still true.

    Check out my blog if you doubt my commitment to these issues.

    I am still absolutely astounded that anyone could interpret a simple QUESTION as either a prescription or a suggestion.

  9. & live with him for the rest of her life ???

    & see his face every morning ???

    & be raped by him every night… til he loses any interest in her ?? ???

    Feel ashamed to belong to the human race there ?

    i feel ashamed to belong to the human race everywhere !!

    & i don’t.

  10. How could any of you believe that I was suggesting this was a GOOD thing???? That is completely outrageous. The fact the Nicaragua could have such an abomination on the books reflects social values that show up in these hideous rape statistics. I was only asking the question to see if it was still true.

    Check out my blog if you doubt my commitment to these issues.

    I am still absolutely astounded that anyone could interpret a simple QUESTION as either a prescription or a suggestion.

  11. Ms Campisi,

    You are completely correct ……… you never said that nicaraguan law was a good thing, you only mentioned it in connection with this issue … & i believe you were right to do so, that law IS pertinent to the issue of raped women in nicaragua.

    Ms de Meireles's question to you … if you "actually believe that [ particular law's ] … the solution?" … was an unfortunate way of phrasing her feelings.

    Her question to you was, i feel, more rhetorical than an actual charge … it was motivated by her sense of outrage at the helplessness of raped women in general.

    But you are correct, Ms Campisi. You never sugested what that question suggests you did. Rhetorical or not, Ms de Meireles' question has nothing to do with your own stand or position on this matter, & ought not to have been phrased to imply otherwise.

    i never doubted you. i stand with both you & Ms de Meireles in denouncing & struggling against women's lack of safety & security from rape, from rapists, as well as from the laws that are supposed to be "protecting" them.

    Let's close ranks in our common quest.

  12. Ms Campisi,

    You are completely correct ……… you never said that nicaraguan law was a good thing, you only mentioned it in connection with this issue … & i believe you were right to do so, that law IS pertinent to the issue of raped women in nicaragua.

    Ms de Meireles’s question to you … if you “actually believe that [ particular law's ] … the solution?” … was an unfortunate way of phrasing her feelings.

    Her question to you was, i feel, more rhetorical than an actual charge … it was motivated by her sense of outrage at the helplessness of raped women in general.

    But you are correct, Ms Campisi. You never sugested what that question suggests you did. Rhetorical or not, Ms de Meireles’ question has nothing to do with your own stand or position on this matter, & ought not to have been phrased to imply otherwise.

    i never doubted you. i stand with both you & Ms de Meireles in denouncing & struggling against women’s lack of safety & security from rape, from rapists, as well as from the laws that are supposed to be “protecting” them.

    Let’s close ranks in our common quest.