Nicaragua – indigenous women knowing and exercising their rights to stop gender-based violence

LAS MUJERES DE AMAK 2-INSIDE-PAGE-HEADER-2The indigenous community of Amakis is located in the heart of Alto Wangki-Bocay, Central America’s largest nature reserve. As in many indigenous communities, Amakis women and girls assume most family responsibilities. Also, they are exposed to gender-based violence.

“When the police arrived, I was afraid of my life,” (…) “I didn’t know what was going to happen. In that moment, I decided to leave him forever”. Said Mrs. Talavera, one of the first women to stop the cycle of violence in her community. Even when the nearest court was at a distance of more than one day trip, she decided to report her husband to the authorities.

For many women like Mrs. Talavera, justice and security were distant concepts to their reality. Cases had to be reported to the police of San Andrés, which is about one hour away by boat. Then, cases were referred to the police of Wiwilí, at a distance of 12 or 18 hours, while severe cases were referred to Jinotenga, five hours away by car.

In response to these conditions, the United Nations launched a program in August 2012 to empower indigenous women, and therefore to reduce insecurity in Alto Wangki-Bocay.

With the support of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Indigenous Justice System, the program selected 52 community judges, who work to prevent and resolve conflicts in rural and remote areas where judicial system is difficult to access.

More and more women are now reporting domestic abuse, and they are sharing their stories to encourage others to seek help.

“I had a strong fight with my husband, and he began to hit me over and over again. Then he tried to attack me with a machete.” Said Erlinda Bolaños, a survivor of domestic abuse. “It was not an isolated incident… It happened over and over again”, she said.

Thanks to this new system, Erlinda reported her husband, who was later arrested. This program has been a powerful step in the promotion of human rights and development in indigenous communities and the population at large.

Women are now empowering and knowing their rights. This is a first step for universal justice.

“Now we are safe because they are respecting our rights and now nobody can hurt us,” said Mrs. Bolaños.