Nicaragua: Women Victims May Be Required to Negotiate With Their Abusers
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 11:10 AM

Responding to pressure, the Nicaragua Supreme Court said it will ask parliament to modify the new Law against Violence toward Women to include mechanisms for mediation between women and their assailants. Law 779, which was overwhelmingly approved by parliament in January 2012, criminalizes gender-based discrimination and violence and establishes special courts and prosecutors as well as special police units to address such crimes. The law also prohibits mediation.
Since taking effect in June 2012, a steady campaign has been lodged against the law by religious and other conservative groups who claim that it discriminates against men and destroys families by eliminating mediation in cases of domestic violence. While mediation is a legal mechanism for conflict resolution in private law, it is not employed in the Nicaraguan judicial system for crimes of public law, such as those recognized in Law 779. But, the Court would like mediation to be used to resolve conflict in cases where the alleged crime carries a prison sentence of less than five years.  
The reform is opposed by the majority in parliament and rejected by women’s rights groups who recognize mediation as an opportunity for assailants to revictimize women and “organize their revenge.” In the absence of reform, the Court may take steps to modify enforcement of the law. The Court has already issued guidelines to judges for reducing sentences in crimes punishable by less than five years imprisonment. Since enactment, the number of abuse cases reported by women has increased by 30 percent.
Compiled from: Silva, José Adán, Nicaraguan Women May Have to Negotiate with their Abusers,” Inter Press Service (May 30, 2013).