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Cablegate: Gender Equality, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Nicaragua

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1079/01 3161558
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 121557Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0112
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 001079

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN KRAAIMOORE
DEPT FOR INR/IAA ARCHULETA
DEPT FOR G/TIP MFERRI
DEPT FOR DRL MAGGIO
STATE FOR USAID
PASS TO MILLENIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12
TAGS: PHUM SOCI KWMN PGOV NU
SUBJECT: GENDER EQUALITY, DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN NICARAGUA

REF: MANAGUA 1041; MANAGUA 794

CLASSIFIED BY: Robert J. Callahan, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: The September rape case of a government employee by her co-workers and the irregularities in the subsequent police investigation has brought the issues of gender equality and domestic violence against Nicaragua women to the forefront of public discourse. While gender equality in Nicaragua has generally improved over the last decade, the government of Nicaragua (GON) seems to deny the prevalence of gender inequality, machista culture and domestic violence, especially when it involves members of the governing Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). This rape case highlights an increasingly common trend where police and judicial authorities are less than responsive in dealing with claims filed by victims of sexual violence. END SUMMARY

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TREND TOWARDS POLICE NEGLIGENCE
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) The case of the alleged rape of an employee for
Nicaraguan Migration Agency (DGME) by her colleague, a militant of
the FSLN, has brought women's issues to the forefront of public
consciousness. The alleged rape victim told reporters that on July
25 she was invited by her supervisor to join her male co-workers
one evening and that she would be given a ride home later that
night. However, when the victim asked to be driven home, her
co-workers drove her instead to a gas station, where she protested
vigorously and was slapped and beaten by them. The victim recalls
that National Nicaraguan Police (NNP) officers at the gas station
did not respond, despite her cries for help. The victim was
drugged and forced back into the car where she was threatened by
her co-worker that he would kill her and her family if she told
anyone about the incident; adding that even if she said anything
about it, his word would be believed against hers. The victim
claims she was raped repeatedly throughout the night before being
dropped off in front of the Antonio Lenin Fonseca Hospital in
Managua.

3. (SBU) At the Fonseca hospital the victim was treated, and later
informed that in addition to her injuries, she was pregnant and
had contracted a venereal disease. While the victim was still
recovering in the hospital, one of the alleged rapists returned to
threaten her against pressing any charges. The victim filed
criminal charges against the perpetrators and submitted her
clothing as evidence. However, 45 days after filing charges police
had taken no action and her alleged aggressors continued working
(DGME officials told reporters that "they cannot be dismissed from
their jobs"). The alleged FSLN militant rapist and his accomplice
have not been questioned by police. The victim told police that
her aggressors still had her jacket and cell phone, but there had
been no effort to return these items. Further, the clothes she
submitted as evidence had not been examined properly by police.
Police Chief Aminta Granera responded to media inquires about the
case that "an investigation was on-going."

--------------------------------------------- -
GOVERMENT ACTION MIXED SIGNALS
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) Media reported that on July 27, Minister of Government Ana Isabel Morales, an FSLN militant to whom DGME reports (and rumored to be the godmother of one of the alleged rapists), gathered employees together two days after the alleged rape incident, to announce that they were not to gossip or speak to the media about internal affairs; DGME employees interpreted her instructions as a direct threat. Employees of DGME also reported Morales ordered the local DGME doctor not to conduct the appropriate physical examinations on the rape victim. The NNP has also failed to follow normal procedures in documenting the victim's claims, which are supposed to be video-taped in order to reduce "re-victimization;" as a result, the victim has been forced to retell her story which has caused her to faint on the occasion. When reporters asked Morales why she did nothing to the DGME employees involved in the rape case, she responded that "the police must detain them [first]...and they are still in the process of investigation."

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VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN CONTINUES
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (U) This high-profile case has recently fueled the public
discourse on gender domestic and sexual violence issues to which
media have dedicated intense coverage of late. Local media
reported that within the first eight months of 2009, 45 women had
been murdered, 25 of them at the hands of their partners. Among
the women killed in 2009 was police sub-commissioner and head of
the women's commissariat of the area of Diriomo, Luz Mariana Lezama
Suazo, who was raped and then killed by her domestic partner.
Media estimate an average of 10 rapes are reported every day and
six murders of women occur per month - a statistic higher than 2008
estimates. Violence against women has long been linked to
Nicaragua's "machista" culture; however, the trend has been
exacerbated by the NNP and judiciary authorities' inefficiency in
responding to cases of domestic violence. The GON is not heading
any major new campaigns to address this issue and there are
complaints that many reported cases are ignored. Moreover, others
complain that laws and protocols are not followed. NGOs complain
that domestic violence is treated less severely than violence
outside of the home.

6. (U) Statistics on domestic violence demonstrate that there has
been a 103 percent increase in the number of reported cases of
domestic violence since 2008. Beginning in 2007, the NNP has
established 35 women's commissariats throughout the country to
better support women and children victims of domestic violence.
Within the first 6 months of 2009, approximately 65,000 women
reportedly suffered some form of domestic violence; yet, of these
only 15,000 had filed complaints against their aggressors. Last
year the Supreme Court of Justice's Institute of Forensic Medicine
reported 11,184 total cases of domestic violence. Media report
that it is unclear whether there is an actual increase in the
number of cases of domestic violence or victims are more inclined
to report violence. [NOTE: In conversations with NGOs and NNP, we
were told that there is an increase in both domestic violence and
reporting; it is generally believed that recent economic strains
and rising male unemployment has led to an increase in domestic
violence. END NOTE]

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GOVERNMENT CLAIMS PROGRESS ON GENDER ISSUES
--------------------------------------------- ---------------------

7. (U) Local magistrate Ligia Molina, who recently hosted the Public Forum on Gender, commented that while gender-based discrimination has decreased within the last decade, it is still prevalent in Nicaragua. The Ortega-Murillo presidential couple has been quick to assert that gender equality within Nicaragua is not an issue, citing as an example that at least 50 percent of government employees are women. However, the Ortega administration overlooks many inequalities, even within their own government. Since 2007, at least 10 women - senior staff and minister-level - have been summarily dismissed. On a national level, local media report women still struggle for equality in access to land titles, education, equal salaries and access to competitive occupations and job positions within the government and business world.

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COMMENT
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8. (C) The recent rape case of a DGME employee by her colleagues
and the subsequent NNP mismanagement of the investigation is
emblematic of the growing trends of violence against women and also
exposes the current government's poor record when it comes to
defending women. There is growing concern that violence against
women in Nicaragua is not being identified as a serious human
rights issue by the Ortega government. Further, the pervasiveness
of domestic violence, homicide, rape and the general abuse of women
is of increasing concern due to its rise within the last year and
the fact that it is underreported. In addition, victims who
attempt to seek justice through police or judicial systems are met
with incompetence and inaction. Finally, corruption, nepotism, and
party affiliation fuel negligence within the police and judiciary
systems, preventing the expedient prosecution of offenders.
CALLAHAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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