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Consultants: Carmen Clavel and Verónica Gutiérrez, with collaboration from Lorna Norori, Fátima Real and Violeta Delgado



- The first study on the prevalence of marital violence against women in Nicaragua, entitled Confites en el infierno ("Candies in Hell"), was made in 1995. (Ellsberg et. al., 1996). According to the study, one of every two women in Nicaragua has been physically mistreated at some point by her husband or companion, and one in four women have been the recipient of physical violence during the last 12 months.

- The second study on prevalence was "Socioeconomic Impact of Domestic Violence Against Women in Chile and Nicaragua". (IDB-FIDEG, 1997). According to this investigation, 70% of all women had experienced physical violence some time in their lives, while 3% had been subjected to violence during the past year.

- Data from the 1998 ENDESA National Survey indicates that 29% of women having a partner at some point had received physical or sexual abuse during their lives.

- Other data from the "Candies in Hell" study reveal that:

- 94% of the mistreated women indicated that physical violence had been accompanied by insults and humiliation, and that 20% had suffered the three types of abuse (physical, psychological and sexual)

- 31% of the women had been hit while pregnant, and almost half suffered blows to the abdomen

- Of the mistreated women, one in three had been forced to have sexual relations.

- In 80% of the cases, violence began during the first four years of living together.

- 70% of the acts were classified as severe (blows with the fist, threat or use of arms)

- Half of the mistreated women stated that violence was generally witnessed by their children.

- With respect to sexual harassment, very little is registered in Nicaragua. The only information is provided by police statistics indicating that the number of reports to police in 1995 had duplicated. In 1995 there were 55 claims, a figure that leaped to 127 during eleven months in 1998.

- According to data from the Census on Children and Adolescents Working in the Street, sexual exploitation in the cities studied (Managua, Matagalpa, León, Chinandega, Masaya and Granada) is a phenomenon fundamentally pertaining to adolescent women averaging 16 years of age, although 13-year old girls were also present. In fifty sites in Managua, there are from 1000 to 1200 women visibly engaged in prostitution, 40% of whom are under 18. Activities of sexual exploitation involve 24 hours of work per week earning 25 córdobas (US$3) an hour, and the average weekly income from prostitution is 598 córdobas (US$75).


Nicaragua has the following legislative instruments for protecting the rights of persons affected by gender violence:

- Law 230: modifications and additions to the Penal Code regarding the prevention and punishment of violence within the family

- Law 150: on sexual crimes

- Law 143 on Alimony and Child Support

- Law for Unilateral Divorce

- Code on Childhood and Adolescence

Government Response

Nicaragua has the following State policies to confront violence against women:


- 1999-2001 Strategic Plan of the Nicaraguan Institute for Women (INIM) – steering agency for public policy on women whose principal line of action is the fight against violence toward women. In 1998 this institution created a program to coordinate and follow up on actions that INIM promotes and participates in.

- National Commission Against Violence: an inter-institutional agency created in 1990 by Executive Decree 37-92. It is responsible for preparing a National Plan Against Violence Toward Women, and involves the integration of judicial, legislative and executive powers for this purpose. Civil society is represented by the Women's Network Against Violence.

- National Commission for the Promotion and Defense of Child Rights. Created in 1990 as an adjunct of the office of the Presidency of the Republic. This commission prepared the National Policy on Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Attention, which led to the National Plan of Action on Behalf of Childhood and Adolescence.

By Sector

-The National Police Force, under the Ministry of Governance, has a Consultative Council on Gender and specific policy for addressing the problem of gender-based violence, which is applied through the Commissariats for Women and Children (1995).

- The Department of Comprehensive Attention for Women, under the Ministry of Health, has an Intrafamily Violence Program (1998).

- The Ministry of the Family (formerly FONIF) is responsible for formulating and coordinating government policy related to the promotion, strengthening and safeguarding of the family as an institution, and as part of this, attention to children who are at risk, abandoned or mistreated.

Response by Civil Society

Civil society participation in responding to the problem of gender violence is considered strategic, given that it has been the women's organizations in Nicaragua that have historically raised their voice to denounce mistreatment and provide the affected population with opportunities to be heard and attended. Some of the most important organizations are the following:

- Women's Network Against Violence (1992): national network for coordination of the women's movement. The network consists of around 130 groups, associations, collectives, women's houses, churches, affiliated unions, and some one hundred women who participate on an individual basis.

- CODENI: consists of 56 nongovernmental organizations carrying out actions with and/or for children

- The following organizations work on an individual basis:

- Centro de la Mujer Acción Ya

- Centro Nicaragüense de Promoción de la Juventud y la Infancia "Dos Generaciones"

- Puntos de encuentro

- Cantera


- Estelì Commission on Childhood

- COTNAM- which coordinates NGOs working with children and adolescence in Matagalpa

- Fundación entre mujeres

 State Services

- Commissariats for Women and Children, created by Law 288 of the PN. This is a cross-sectoral project created "to provide specialized attention in cases of physical, psychological and sexual violence against women and children." Currently there are 14 commissariats.

- Ministry of the Family: Local Action Units that receive claims of violence against children and provide legal follow-up on these claims. The units facilitate placement in substitute homes and training.

- Health sector module attending violence within families in six municipalities located in the department of Estelí


- There is a broad range of organizations that provide services for the population affected by domestic and sexual violence, including legal advising, psychological consulting, gynecological attention and forensic medicine, training and shelters.

- In the area of sexual harassment, the NGO Movimiento de Mujeres desempleadas y trabajadoras María Elena Cuadra (MEC) works in sensitization, and in filing and following up on claims of sexual harassment against women workers, mainly in drawback factories.

- Concerning sexual exploitation of girls and adolescents, with support from CODENI a work panel was created in 1998 on child prostitution and trafficking of women, with participation from 12 to 15 organizations for women and children. This Panel on Women and the Girl-Child is being coordinated by TESIS, an NGO.Top of Page

Coordination of Reports: consultant Ana Isabel García, with support from Ana Lorena Hidalgo (Costa Rica).

UNDP Against Violence Home Page

For more information, please contact Aparna Mehrotra, Focal Point for Women, Tel: (212)963-6828 Fax: (212) 963-9545, e-mail: mehrotra@un.org

Management and direction: Aparna Mehrotra
Website  design
: Lola Salas
Writing, editing& proofing: Aparna Mehrotra, Dana Burde, Rini Banerjee and Tanaz Pardiwala
Graphic: Joan Miró
(detail) from folder by Isis International