MIRIAM, Nicaragua – For a life free of violence

Young woman studying at the MIRIAM-school. Photo: © Itzel ChavarríaYoung woman studying at the MIRIAM-school. Photo: © Itzel Chavarría

"Every consultation session begins with a list: what types of violence does the woman experience? Usually this list covers the whole range from psychological, physical and economic to sexual violence. The first step for the woman is to learn to identify violent behaviour. Next, it is about recognizing that 'machismo' and violence aren’t ‘natural’ and shouldn’t be accepted as such.”
Scarleth Díaz, Psychological Counsellor for Asociación Proyecto MIRIAM

Project area: Regions Estelí, Managua and Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Supported by TDF since: 2012                                 

Target group: Girls and women affected by violence and socio-economic disadvantages

Background:

  • Gender-specific violence is one of the greatest threats to physical and psychological health of women in Nicaragua. 
  • In 2017, there were 58 cases of femicide. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Violence plays a significant role in the daily structural discrimination of women.
  • According to a study of the National Autonomous University of Managua of 2015, 70% of the questioned women regularly suffer physical and psychological violence from their partners.
  • According to the national police report, 1.080 cases of rape were registered in 2016/17. The estimated number of unknown cases is expected to be much higher, though.
  • Women are faced with a nationwide total ban on abortion even when their own life or the life of their baby is at serious risk.
  • Nicaragua has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Latin America. This is mostly attributed to a lack of sexual education and to widely prevalent sexual violence in the country.
  • Political unwillingness and slowness to put in practice the Law for the Protection of Women against Violence (Ley 779), and to tackle the issue of violence against women, threatens women’s health and disregards their rights.
  • Since the re-election of Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front as president in 2007, the influence of the Catholic church on family politics has been growing constantly. Over the past years, strengthening family cohesion has become more important than implementing women’s rights, being illustrated, for example, by the decision of the government to reintroduce mediation between the perpetrator and the affected person in specific cases of violence.
  • “Machismo” is deeply rooted in Nicaraguan society, and the constant reproduction of patriarchal, conservative norms contributes to the lack of awareness of perpetrators and even the affected women.
  • Since April 2018, there is a severe political crisis in Nicaragua. Protests against President Ortega, against planned social reforms, state corruption and violations of human rights have been fought violently by the police, military and paramilitary forces. Despite increased safety requirements, our partner organization Asociación Proyecto MIRIAM continues its work thereby providing a reliable anchor for women and girls in need.

Project activities:

Asociación Proyecto MIRIAM fights for the right to a life free of violence and the right to education of girls and women in Nicaragua. The non-governmental organization was founded in 1989 by scholarship holders of a private funding initiative for university studies. Since 1995, the organization has been offering legal support to girls and women affected by violence, in addition to the constant extension of the prevention and empowerment work.

  • Fighting impunity: Psychological and legal support as well as legal representation in court of girls and women with experiences of violence.
  • Knowing women’s rights: In workshops, women and men learn about women’s rights, reflect upon violent structures and are trained as multipliers, so they can pass on the information in their communities and assist in cases of violence.
  • Schooling, vocational training and economic empowerment: Women aged over 14 can attend courses in literacy, sewing, hairdressing, cosmetics or computation. Many start an own small business or enter the job market afterwards. Generating own income, they become financially more independent in the long run.   
  • Promoting university studies: A scholarship program provides socio-economically disadvantaged women with the financial means for their university studies, and offers personal development and gender-related workshops. 
  • Promoting social change: Political lobbying and public relations work

Impact:

Since the founding of Asociación Proyecto MIRIAM, over 34.000 girls, boys, women and men have been supported:

  • 5000 women participated in the literacy courses, completed primary school or a vocational training or were granted a scholarship for their university studies.
  • 11.000 women affected by violence were informed about their rights or supported psychologically and legally.
  • 18.000 children, young adults, women and men have been trained and actively involved in the prevention of violence against women, sexual exploitation and trafficking in women.

Despite the currently tense political situation, TDF and Asociación Proyecto MIRIAM have been able to achieve the following results in the first six months of 2018:

  • Counselling of 130 people (122 women, 6 girls and 2 young men) affected by domestic and/or sexualized violence. 334 counselling sessions and 105 meetings at state institutions were held.
  • Psychological counselling of 49 women.
  • 108 workshops with women about their rights, options for action, personality development, strengthening of self-confidence and empowerment.
  • 30 vocational training graduates were coached to develop business plans and start own small-scale businesses (85 home visits).
  • 61 home visits to violence affected women who had unexpectedly stopped legal and/or psychological counselling to ensure their wellbeing and inform them about the processing status of their complaints against perpetrators.

Project manager: Yolanda Acuña Urbina

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinator Wencke Loesener (nicaragua@frauenrechte.de)
or TERRE DES FEMMES – department for International Cooperation (iz@frauenrechte.de)

Support:

In order for MIRIAM to continue their work in an increasingly challenging political context, your support is needed.

Support MIRIAM with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor!

You can also donate to the following account, using the keyword “Nicaragua” as a reference for your payment:

TERRE DES FEMMES e.V.
EthikBank
IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00
BIC GENODEF1ETK

 

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