World News

The Consequences of Femicide in Nicaragua

The murder of women by their current or former partners (husbands, boyfriends, or life partners) is known as femicide. The term refers to when a man murders a female, adult, adolescent, or child because she is female and in which he feels superior and believes he has every right to kill her. Femicide is the most extreme manifestation of abuse and violence from men towards women. We could say that all forms of violence against women, whether physical, psychological, or sexual, can end in femicide.

United Nations studies revealed that worldwide there is an average of 137 women who die every day at the hands of their partner or a close relative. In Nicaragua, although there is no information on official figures, the non-governmental organization Catholics for the Right to Decide recorded that in 2018 there were 61 femicides, in 2019 there were 69 cases, and in 2020 there were 71 cases. The Regulation to the Comprehensive Law against Violence Against Women, article 34, recognizes femicide as a crime and is punishable by several years in prison. Although the law helps a lot, other mechanisms are also needed: such as education. For example, the Ministry of Education should promote subjects related to gender education in the primary and secondary curriculum, and teach about discriminatory behaviors and know how to avoid them at home, in the church, school, and in the community. Another mechanism is work. If women have a job, they no longer have to depend on a man to support them financially. This helps to make the problem visible so that society can identify and report it.

Femicide should be considered a social phenomenon and a matter of public health, which brings serious consequences such as the brutal destruction of the family environment, alteration of the normal development of daughters and sons and family members, and even community members. Besides, it can also result in the loss of the workforce of two people, severe psychological damage to children, relatives, and witnesses, and finally, the risk of perpetuating the pattern of violence and social poverty.

National statistics show that between 2015 and 2020, 348 femicides were reported, which have left more than 300 children and adolescent girls orphaned. Some studies have determined that girls, boys, and adolescents who suffer or who witness intrafamilial or domestic violence are more likely to have low school performance and a high rate of grade repetition and drop out of school, in addition to lower levels of income in the future. When a mother is murdered by her partner and the perpetrator commits suicide or is imprisoned, the family has to assume the rearing of the children and stops receiving the income that both contributed. In most cases, it is the mother or a sister of the victim who assumes responsibility for the girls, boys, and adolescents who remain orphaned, which means an increase in the poverty levels, including the family that welcomes them.

In Nicaragua, the traumatic effects on the psychological level of child and adolescent victims of femicide are not measured. It is unknown whether the Ministry of the Family, Children and Adolescents (MIFAN) keeps a record of the number of children and adolescents who remain in this condition. Of course, many questions arise: Who are they left with after the tragedy? Are they cared for in child protection centers? Or are they welcomed by a family member? Similarly, it is unknown whether they receive any psychological support from the Ministry of Health or any organization. It is unknown whether the host families receive financial support from the state, whether or not they continue to study and how they face the social stigma that this type of tragedy generates in their community.

The priority would be to provide them with specialized care from an interdisciplinary approach that helps reduce the impact of the traumatic consequences of femicide on the children’s lives and thus achieve their emotional recovery. Public institutions are responsible for guaranteeing them this specialized care and financial resources for their survival.

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