Creating Safe Space in a Challenging Landscape: Empowerment for Rural Women in Nicaragua
Programs and policies addressing gendered violence in impoverished rural areas in developing countries face a number of challenges: high rates of intimate partner violence, low reporting rates, cultural restrictions on women’s employment, lack of education and adequate healthcare, limited access to legal options and social services, and corruption in the criminal justice system. These social contexts in which anonymity is low and patriarchal notions of gender are especially persistent, are challenging in terms of creating safe space for victims of intimate violence. Even where legal interventions are available, the outcomes often favor the perpetrators, making this option less attractive and in some cases, dangerous. Because of these barriers, victims of intimate partner violence in rural settings rely more often on informal or community networks of support rather than formal authorities and legal sanctions to stop the violence. Consequently, addressing intimate partner violence in rural areas in developing countries requires more than a criminal justice response; it requires community intervention, empowering rural women economically and socially. This article describes one program in particular that attempts to empower rural women in Nicaragua, and the implications for creating safe space for victims of violence in challenging contexts.
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