A lot of the work the Colectivo does centers on Law 779, formally known as the Integral Law against Violence against Women. This landmark law came into effect last year and marked a significant advancement for women’s rights and feminist groups, which had collectively been fighting for its existence for nearly two decades.
Law 779 defines violence against women in its many forms and works to reduce and prevent its occurrence. The law provides women a means to access justice and to hold their abusers to account for their crimes. It stipulates that the State and its institutions have a responsibility to protect women and to punish all forms of gender-based discrimination.
Currently Law 779 prohibits any mediation between victims and their abusers. However, in May of this year the Supreme Court, backed by religious leaders, asked the single chamber legislature to reform the law, to effectively force women to negotiate with their attackers in cases where the perpetrator receives a sentence of five years or less.
This reform would put women’s lives at greater risk. Last year 85 women were killed in Nicaragua as a direct result of gender-based violence. Out of those victims, 13 went to the police to file a complaint against their partner for the abuse before they were killed. Telling women the solution to the abuse they are suffering is to talk things through with their attacker is not an option.
The Colectivo, along with other women’s groups, has been gathering to protest this reform outside the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and in different neighbourhoods across the city. These women and men spend their whole day protesting under the hot sun. They hold signs reading, “No more girls killed and raped. No to mediation” and “The State is the executioner of women. No to the reform of Law 779”. They march and sing and yell and beat drums. Members of our Colectivo speak with media, giving interviews about why this reform must not be allowed to move forward. The passing of Law 779 in Nicaragua was a great victory, but the battle for women’s rights continues.