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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Published: 2020-02-24
Pages:7 to 12
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How to Cite
Sudderth, L. K. (2020) “Creating Safe Space in a Challenging Landscape: Empowerment for Rural Women in Nicaragua”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 9(1), pp. 7-12. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v9i1.1493.

Author Biography

Quinnipiac University
 United States

Lori K. Sudderth conducts research on the challenges of providing services and safety to victims of gendered violence in different contexts, such as geographic isolation, migration, and extreme poverty. In 2009, she worked with UNIFEM to develop a list of indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of legislation addressing intimate partner violence in Southeast Europe. She has received two Fulbright Scholarships, one for an examination of domestic violence policy in Costa Rica and another for her current research on disclosure of intimate violence in St. Lucia. She is Professor of Criminal Justice in the Sociology Department at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut in the United States.