In an effort to intimidate feminist-activists, the Nicaraguan government and other right-wing groups charged 9 prominent women's rights leaders with criminal violations for their work in denouncing crimes of violence and sexual abuse. Nicaraguan feminists are now calling for solidarity and international support for these women’s rights advocates.

Nine renowned women's human rights defenders in Nicaragua are now charged with criminal violations for their work in protecting and promoting women's rights.

Last November 22, Nicaragua’s National Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), an organisation sponsored by the Catholic right-wing and the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, has filed a case of omission against 9 women's rights leaders regarding the controversial case of Rosita, a 9-year-old girl who was raped, became pregnant, and received therapeutic abortion. This form of abortion, performed when the life of the mother is endangered, was outlawed in the country during the electoral campaign in 2006 in order to gain the favour of conservative religious constituencies.

ANPDH claims that the 9 feminists used the pregnancy of Rosita to promote their abortionist agenda in Nicaragua, and in the process helped to cover up the girl's rape by her stepfather, who fled Costa Rican authorities with their aid. With the abortion of Rosita's child and the secretive disposal of its remains that followed, DNA testing could not be done by the Nicaraguan authorities. ANPDH then filed charges including omitting required medical procedures for obtaining a therapeutic abortion and concealing evidence of the rape by secretly disposing of the body of the aborted child.

These 9 feminist-activists are:

1. Ana Maria Pizarro, member of the Regional Coordination of the Campaign September 28 for the Decriminalisation of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean

2. Juanita Jiménez, (until recently) person responsible for Advocacy of the Network of Women against Violence

3. Lorna Norori, psychologist

4. Luisa Molina Arguello, spokesperson of the Federation of NGOs working with Children and Adolescents

5. Martha Maria Blandón, from the Sexuality, Maternity and Rights Forum and IPAS Central America

6. Martha Munguia, director of the Center Mujeres Acción Ya (Women Action Now Center)

7. Mayra Sirias, current spokesperson of the Network of Women against Violence and member of its Coordinating Body

8. Violeta Delgado, former executive coordinator of the Network of Women against Violence

9. Yamileth Mejia, (until recently) person responsible of Political Training of the Network of
Women against Violence

These women also played an important role in speaking out about the alleged sexual abuse of Zoilamérica Narváez by her step-father, Daniel Ortega, the current President of Nicaragua.

At present, the nine are still being persecuted. Below is an open letter calling for solidarity and support signed by Campaign September 28, an initiative that strives for the construction of a democratic society in which women can make decisions over their own bodies and lives, in which these choices are respected and the State ensures the necessary conditions to guarantee the exercise of these rights. Since 1990, feminists in Latin America and the Caribbean have commemorated September 28, the Latin American and the Caribbean Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion.

OPEN LETTER ASKING FOR SOLIDARITY  

Dear friends, 

The Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, the National Association for Human Rights filed a case against nine well-known leaders of the women’s movement of Nicaragua, accused as responsible of committing some criminal acts.  

These compañeras are members of different civil society spaces and organisations, they have a long history of struggle in favour of women’s rights, freedom and justice, democracy and socioeconomic development of the country, and most of them are members of the National Network of Women against Violence.  These social activists had an important participation in support of the denounce[ment] (presented) by Zoilamérica Narváez who was sexually abused by her step-father, the current President of the Republic.   

Through information we received today, the afternoon of November 22nd, we know that the Attorney General's Office has instructions to proceed immediately in prosecuting the case, preparing the accusation and doing a fast trial guaranteeing a sentence against the nine accused, to take them to jail.  

With this decision, backed by the presidential couple (Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo), an action of political vengeance and repression is being implemented for those who supported Zoilamérica’s quest for justice. Also, they are trying to negatively affect the credibility of women’s spaces and organisations that with courage have always denounced crimes of violence and sexual abuse of all the victims that have approached them for assistance.   

We call all women’s and other civil society organisations to mobilise against this repressive action of political terrorism and to defend the rights and freedom of our compañeras and to reject through different means the actions of the presidential couple and the Attorney’s office.  

Meanwhile, the Network of Women against Violence has call on all its members to coordinate a joint response, that several other organisations from all over the country are supporting, as well as organisations with which the women’s movements has alliances and joint work, as well as diverse groups promoting sexual diversity.    

It does not go without saying that we expect all sorts of expressions of solidarity by the international women’s and feminist movements, which has historically and permanently denounced the arbitrary actions that are faced by women who are struggling to advance rights for all.   

Your solidarity messages can be sent to the email address of the Campaign September 28: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Thanking you all in advance for your support,    


Patricia Orozco A.    
Regional Coordinator of the Campaign September 28

Sources:
“Nicaragua: Feminists under attack by fundamentalist forces” from Women Living Under Muslim Laws, posted on January 7, 2008, <http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd%5B157%5D=x-157-559677>.  
“Solidarity with Nicaraguan women’s rights leaders” from Nobel Women's Initiative, posted on December 13, 2007, <http://www.nobelwomensinitiative.org/index.php/content/view/177/30/>.

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