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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:57 pm 
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Managua, Nicaragua: A transvestite splashes on some make-up during the Gay Pride Parade
Photograph: Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

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A man covered in bodypaint poses during the Gay Pride Parade in Managua, Nicaragua
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Nicaraguan rights groups call sexual abuse an ‘epidemic’
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
By David Hutt

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In the first quarter of this year, the Nicaraguan Medical Forensics Agency performed 1,312 forensic examinations on abused women and minors – an average of 14.6 per day.

LEÓN, Nicaragua – Last month saw two major stories involving sexual abuse in the headlines of Nicaraguan newspapers.

First came the account of a mentally and physically disabled 12-year-old girl allegedly raped by four policemen and a security guard 30 meters from the presidential compound in the capital. Three policemen were arrested, but not the guard, who local media reported works for a company with political ties to a top Sandinista leader.

Days later, the alleged victim attempted suicide. “She cut one of her wrists and was taken to a hospital last week,” a statement published on the website of the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) said. The trial against the three policemen begins Oct. 7.

More recently, CENIDH denounced the case of a student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, who accused her professor of attempted rape. That incident allegedly occurred in June and was reported to the police in the department of León, northwest of the capital. But after three months, no charges were brought against the teacher. Staff at CENIDH pointed out that the alleged perpetrator, Francisco José Venegas, is a Sandinista departmental deputy and holds a significant position within the university.

The two incidents have prompted Nicaraguan rights groups to speak out against what they are calling an “epidemic” of sexual abuse in the country. “We’re talking about an epidemic that should cause the authorities to issue an alert. If there were 5,000 victims of dengue or 5,000 victims of H1N1 virus, then there would be an alert,” said Marta María Blandón, Central American director of Ipas, an organization that works to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Last year, 3,660 allegations of sexual abuse were reported in Nicaragua. According to the National Police’s Statistics Commission for Women and Children, in the first six months of this year, 1,873 abuse allegations were filed, of which 1,050 involved children under the age of 14. Many others go unreported.

In the first quarter of this year, the Nicaraguan Medical Forensics Agency performed 1,312 forensic examinations on abused women and minors – an average of 14.6 per day. The agency said more than 80 percent of cases involve victims under 17, and 50 percent of victims are under 13. International organizations also are denouncing sexual abuse in Nicaragua. Marcos Gómez, a regional director at Amnesty International who visited the country in 2011, said Nicaragua has the highest rate of attacks against women in all of Central America.

Impunity

According to Juanita Jiménez of the Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres de Nicaragua, a political organization that aims to further women’s rights in Nicaragua, “The cause lies not only in the machista culture of our society, but also in the lack of democratic institutions, since impunity for these crimes discourages complaints from victims and legitimizes the culture of abuse.

“The abuse has been present in our culture, but the partisanship of public institutions, and particularly the justice system, has perverted institutions and legitimized abuse in general,” she told The Tico Times. Jiménez also mentioned past allegations against President Daniel Ortega. In 1998, Ortega’s stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Narváez, accused the current president of sexually abusing her from 1979 (when she was 11) until 1990. Both Ortega and Narváez’s mother, First Lady and Sandinista spokeswoman Rosario Murillo, denied the charges, and the case was never brought to trial. Instead, Nicaraguan courts granted Ortega immunity from prosecution because he was a member of the legislature.

In Nicaragua, charges of sexual abuse and rape have a five-year statute of limitation. Narváez has never withdrawn her accusation, although the charges expired long ago. According to Martínez, the case “set a bad example for our society and legitimized the impunity of sexual abusers at the highest level.”

Other criticisms were recently levied against the judicial system when professional baseball player Jimmy González was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl who became pregnant. Despite DNA testing proving he is the father, no case was ever brought to court. Then, in 2011, the Sandinista government gave red-carpet treatment to Belgian priest François Houtart during the commemoration of the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. Houtart is a confessed pedophile who renounced a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2010 after admitting that he raped his 8-year-old cousin.

In another case last July, the Supreme Court reduced a jail sentence for defendant Farinton Reyes, who was convicted of raping a co-worker. The court ruled that Reyes committed the crime under the influence of alcohol, and was therefore in a state of sexual excitement that he was unable to control. Judges reduced his prison sentence to four years. After the case, Sandra Ramos, director of Movimiento de Mujeres María Elena Cuadra, a women’s rights organization based in Managua, said, “Clearly, we have a justice system that does not support or protect women.”

Lorna Norori of the Movimiento Contra el Abuso Sexual, an organization that works with sexual abuse victims, added, “Sexual freedom cannot be measured by alcohol intake. Having a position like that means anyone can abuse women, children and adolescents and claim impunity.”

One of the biggest problems Nicaraguan women face is a law introduced in 2006 that bans all forms of abortion, including therapeutic abortion, even when a woman or girl is raped. Last month, several hundred protesters marched in Nicaragua as part of the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The criminalization of abortion without exceptions violates the legal status of women by not allowing them to save their own lives or reduce the risks to their physical or psychological well-being,” Martínez said.

Last month, rights groups stepped up pressure on the government to enact reforms. But before that happens, the groups warned, more women likely will become victims of abuse.

“We urge you not to give up on reporting crimes of sexual violence,” CENIDH said in a recent statement. The statement also urged victims to seek help from aid groups.

Source: Tico Times.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:04 am 
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Miss Gay Nicaragua to fight homophobia
26 June 2014

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In this Friday, June 20, 2014, photo, former Miss Gay Nicaragua 2013 Elizabeth Rios, center left wearing the crown, kisses a contestant competing in this year's beauty pageant in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -- Carlos Castro hugged his mother and wept after the announcer named him Miss Gay Nicaragua 2014.

It was the culmination of a lot of work by the 19-year-old agronomy student and the beginning of a lot more.

Castro, known as Amerika Ithzell Korkobas Berdrinadxy, will now visit several provinces in the Central American nation in the role of Miss Gay Nicaragua seeking to raise awareness about sexual diversity and gender identity and to help fight discrimination. "I'm happy, ecstatic, satisfied because the work was not easy. There were months of catwalk, makeup that helped me and other beauty queens to prepare," said Castro, who won the contest in a shiny purple gown decorated with beads and rhinestones. "I think the judges liked my charisma and my humility and that I'm crazy on the runway."

Dozens of contestants paraded down the stage of a hotel auditorium in Managua last week wearing exuberant traditional dresses, evening gowns embellished with sequin and feathers and in swimsuits as they competed in the beauty pageant.

Castro, who represented the province of Leon, received a tiara valued at $2,000, a cash prize of $5,000 and the opportunity to travel to Thailand as Nicaragua's representative in Miss Queen International. For six months prior to the pageant, contestants attended workshops about sexual diversity and HIV. They also visited people living with HIV, and helped young victims of discrimination by buying them food and corrugated metal sheets to strengthen their homes.

"The event is important to raise awareness in society, for people who are sexually diverse to be united and for the girls to start enriching their gender identity," said Miss Gay Nicaragua's organizer, Julio Sanchez. "It's also a way to fight against homophobia."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 11:58 am 
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Nicaragua prostitutes study law to help others in trouble
By Blanca Morel
April 7, 2015

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Sex worker Concepcion de Maria Jarquin, 46, smokes as she waits for clients in Matagalpa's downtown, 125 km from Nicaragua's capital Managua, on March 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Inti Ocon)

Matagalpa, Nicaragua (AFP) - Cony's usual work clothes are tight-fitting outfits that show off her curves as she waits for clients at the bar.

But today she has put on a modest flower-print dress to attend her first law class, one of 60 sex workers who are training to become volunteer "facilitators" in the Nicaraguan justice system. Cony -- short for Concepcion Jarquin -- learned early on to survive in a hostile world, and now hopes to use her street sense to help others defend themselves. Raped by a neighbor at age six, she dropped out of school in shame and left home to escape the rebukes of her mother, who blamed her for what happened.

Forty years and countless humiliations later, this lively, smiling woman is studying part-time in a conference room at the Supreme Court to learn the basics of the Nicaraguan civil and criminal codes. She will then be sworn in to act as a liaison between residents of her impoverished neighborhood and an often inaccessible justice system.

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Sex worker Concepcion de Maria Jarquin, 46, displays condoms at her home in Sor Maria neighbourhood, in the city of Matagalpa, 125 km from Nicaragua's capital Managua, on March 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Inti Ocon)

The free, year-long course, which meets once every two months, was organized by the Sunflowers Sex Workers' Association, a group set up three years ago to help prostitutes get medical care and professional training. It is part of a broader initiative that has trained 4,300 facilitators across Nicaragua in the past 17 years to mediate in neighborhood conflicts -- arguments between neighbors, disputes over money, etc. -- or get help from support groups or the police in more serious cases.

The program has been so successful at reducing the caseload of the overburdened court system that eight other Latin American countries have adopted it. But this is the first time sex workers are taking part. Maria Davila, the head of the Sunflowers association, said prostitutes are ideal for the job. "We are fighters who know how to overcome and find bread to feed our families," she said at the inauguration of the program. "We are women with rights and abilities... capable of helping our sisters and their families."

Helping others escape abuse

For Cony, it is a chance to serve her community and regain some of the dignity lost doing her other job. "Seeing a stranger on top of you is horrible. It's not a dignified job. It's disgusting. But that's how we feed our children," she told AFP at the small shack made of scrap wood and plastic where she lives in the city of Matagalpa.

Cony, who has light brown skin and delicate features, turned to prostitution to raise her two children, and continues working to support her three grandchildren. She has slept with men of nearly every kind imaginable, she said: "Farmers, office workers, college graduates, pastors, priests, politicians...."

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Sex worker Concepcion de Maria Jarquin, 46, smokes at her home in Sor Maria neighbourhood, in the city of Matagalpa, 125 km from Nicaragua's capital Managua, on March 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Inti Ocon)

Nicaragua, a country of six million people, has some 14,000 prostitutes. Often they are abused by clients, targeted for rapes and muggings, have no health care and face discrimination by the police. Another woman taking part in the course, Alondra -- her name has been changed at her request -- described the horrors sex workers can face. "I was raped twice. Once by a gang of 10 people in Managua. I nearly lost my mind," she said. The 36-year-old, who does not earn enough to make ends meet in her day job as a housekeeper, said she hopes to help others escape the abuse she has faced. "I'm going to enrich myself more, empower myself more and use what I learn to help people," she said.

There is no shortage of conflicts to resolve in these women's neighborhoods. In Cony's, for example -- a slum called Sor Maria -- neighbors live practically on top of each other in tiny shacks made of plastic and scrap metal. The only source of water is a truck that passes every two days selling it in jugs. Disputes, fights and domestic violence are a daily reality.

Yesenia Alston, a 35-year-old participant in the program, said she is "proud to be a sex worker" but also looking forward to doing more in her community. The course "is an opportunity to help our families and our fellow sex workers, to use the knowledge we're acquiring to defend our rights," she said.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 12:11 pm 
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Nicaragua rejects gay marriage, adoption
April 8, 2015

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Gay activists march in Managua against homophobia and demanding a new family code legalizing the union of persons of the same sex, on June 28, 2012 (AFP Photo/Nicolas Garcia)

Managua (AFP) - A new legal definition of what constitutes a family took effect in Nicaragua on Wednesday, drawing ire from gay groups who say it massively impacts their rights.

The so-called Family Code, which was first agreed in June 2014, establishes marriage as only being "between a man and a woman." Aside from barring gay marriage, the definition precludes gays from adopting and diminishes other rights. "We feel we have been excluded from these laws," said Marvin Mayorga, leader of the Movement for Sexual Diversity.

The rule explicitly states that only man-woman couples, foreign or Nicaraguan, can adopt. Additionally, Mayorga said gay couples would not be allowed to use fertility treatments to get pregnant. Nor would they be entitled to social security protection or inheritance in the case of loss of a spouse.

Several gay-rights groups plan to challenge the code in the country's supreme court. About 60,000 gay people live in Nicaragua.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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