Latin America calls attention to sexual abuse of children and adolescents

Karol Asuncion *

"My dad ... it was my biological father who abused me. I was violated from the age of nine until 14 ...". The testimony of a 17 year old girl presented in the Amnesty International report reveals a sad reality in Nicaragua: the sexual abuse of children and adolescents. Because of this, the international organization called on the society to ask the Nicaraguan Government for concrete actions for justice and to prevent these violations.

So far, 45,237 people signed a message addressed to the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. In the letter, the signatories call on the State of Nicaragua to: develop and implement a National Plan to Prevent Sexual Violence against Children, protection and redress for victims, accountability of the authorities and medical care and psychosocial services to victims.

Moreover, the message asks the reform of the penal code to decriminalize abortion in cases of pregnancy as a result of rape. "Forcing someone to go ahead with a pregnancy resulting from rape causes suffering and distress and further constitutes a serious violation of the human rights of women and girls," it points out.

Those interested in participating in the action should visit the website of Amnesty International and fill in the fields indicated in the letter with: name, surname, email and country of residence.

Sexual abuse

Sexual violence is a crime that has thousands of victims in Nicaragua, both adults and children. The report "Listen to their voices and act, no more rape and sexual violence against girls in Nicaragua," published this year by Amnesty International, makes clear which girls and adolescents are the main victims of sexual violations.

From analysis of police reports of violations submitted between 1998 and 2008, the Amnesty International report reveals that over two thirds of the crimes (9,695) were committed against minors under 17 years - the total number of registered cases was 14,377 in ten years.

A major problem in the country is the lack of complaints on this type of crime. Often, victims are silent due to lack of information or intimidation by the aggressors. "The negative social attitudes against the survivors of sexual violations and rape and the adolescents is the fact that sex is still taboo in Nicaragua also many of them do not dare to report sexual abuse," he adds.

Furthermore, when deciding whether to report, victims still need to overcome barriers that hinder full access to justice and reparations. Lack of protection during the investigation and trial, and the expenses to gain access to justice and rehabilitation are some of the difficulties faced by them.

Victims may suffer further if the violation results in pregnancy. Those who choose to continue the pregnancy, according to Amnesty International, receive none of the help needed to continue with their studies or to return to work, and if they wish to terminate the pregnancy, they cannot accomplish it in a legal and safe way, because abortion (even in cases of rape) is prohibited in the country.

"The magnitude of the problem demands a decisive, integrated and coordinated response by the authorities. However, despite clear evidence of the extent of abuse, the authorities have not established an integrated national plan to prevent sexual violence and to protect and support the survivors. The latest plan to combat violence against girls and boys in Nicaragua was established in 2001 and its term was due to expire by 2006. Since then, no new plan has been announced or implemented to prevent sexual abuse," the report points out.


To read the full report, visit:

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya