Preventing Violence in Nicaragua
Cruz, a 39-year-old mother of 9, was personally affected by domestic violence and remembers the fear of having her life and the lives of her children threatened by her abusive husband: “I could not sleep or eat. Often I would have to sleep outside with my daughters when that man would show up drunk, he would hit me and he would grab my daughter, the one whose labor he induced and the baby died. I remember once when he tried to kill me, I hit my head on a rock and lost consciousness.”
Cruz has since left her husband with the assistance of the Executive Commission on Women, Children and Adolescents of Waslala (La Comisión). La Comisión received a $28,500 grant in 2006 and 2007 from its partner, The Central American Women’s Fund, to run a residential shelter for women and children. The shelter provides women with legal advice on issues such as reproductive rights, divorce, the protection of children and property rights. Over an 11-month period, the program’s work reached 2,296 people through direct services. A further 20,000 people were empowered through a weekly radio show called, “Gender, Health and No Violence.”
La Comisión also facilitates social change in the wider community by networking with leaders across municipal and national spheres to work toward the common goal of reducing violence through the education and empowerment of women. Central American Women’s Fund and La Comisión have partnered to create vital changes in behavior and reaction to violence at all levels of society, factors that are necessary to ensure women and their families live in peace and sustainable security in Waslala and beyond.
Additional outcomes include:
- Participants learning how to access legal help, and to make use of laws that protect them.
- Workshops on violence prevention and the importance of responsible relationships have been initiated for 474 youths at 14 schools.
- Thirteen anti-violence workshops reaching a total of 770 people in multiple communities.
- An increase of recognition by men of the value of women and an awareness of the laws that defend women from abuse.
- An increase of community vigilance in reporting crimes to the police – including sex crimes and domestic violence – in comparison to previous years.
Cruz credits the program with empowering her to seek legal assistance to leave the dangerously abusive relationship she had with her former husband: “I was afraid to make a formal accusation to the police until I heard of your organization. My daughter decided to make a formal accusation. Then we were in the shelter with my children for three months where I received help to clear up my ideas and today I am another person, far from him. I work for my children.”