Today, November 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women or as it is known here Día internacional de lucha contra la violencia hacia las mujeres. To see how the day is commemorated here I went down to the Central American University or UCA (pronounced oo-ka) to see a peaceful march. When I arrived, the streets were quiet and empty. Suddenly, I heard the distant pounding of drums and shouting of voices. The once calm streets filled with hundreds of women and men holding banners, waving flags, and chanting. To give you a little history lesson this event is to commemorate November 25th, 1960 when two female political activists known as “the Butterflies” were killed by the dictator’s secret police in the Dominican Republic. Today, women and men continue to oppose institutionalized violence. More specific to Nicaragua, there was a law passed a few years ago famously known as “La Ley 779” to condemn violence against women. However, given the multitude of women and men taking to the streets today it is clear that the law has not done what it outlined. Instead of explaining each of the rights they are fighting for, I will let some photos do the talking…
“Therapeutic abortion… and what do you think?” Currently all forms of abortion are illegal in Nicaragua, including those threatening the health of the mother or pregnancies resulting from rape. This restriction especially affects young, teenage girls who are victims of domestic violence and incest.
“Stop male chauvinist (machista) violence and femicides. The unconstitutional decree leads to our death. WE DEMAND THE STATE TO APPLY LAW 779.” Another issue is femicides, which not only occur within the family sphere but can also be a random occurrence. As one speaker explained “Women are killed simply due to the fact that they are women.” The law was supposed to reduce this, but it has not been implemented well given the continued violence and impunity.
I just really enjoy this photo. The Hunger Games movie billboard just adds to the power of the protest. Katniss Everdeen isn’t the only “girl on fire.” The men and women of Nicaragua are in fiery protest against the lack of progress the law has made to reduce institutionalized violence against females.
For those who want an even more visual experience of the event, here’s a small video I put together with a rough translation in some parts. Sometimes the catchy, rhythmic chants in Spanish don’t translate well into English, but give me an A for effort. Also the subtitles are bouncing around…you can blame YouTube for that.
Overall, I got the sense that people are incredibly frustrated with the state of women’s rights, especially now that a law that was supposed to help them is not doing much. However, there remains a sense of optimism. With any frustration comes motivation, fueling the cry for change. Little by little, Nicaraguans are working with the upmost motivation to end violence against women.