“We’re entitled to half the power and we’re not giving up”
Diakonia’s partner organization AMICA has for the last 20 years been defending women’s rights on the Atlantic coast in Nicaragua. “Our work involves fighting against the monster that is men’s violence against women,” says Nora Hammer, lawyer at AMICA.
Nicaragua of the 1980s was a country marked by violent conflict between two armed groups: the Sandinista National Liberation Front and Las Contras. The war not only left victims, people exposed to horrific abuses and violations, in its wake but also split up families.
“In our region, many people fled to Honduras during the conflict. When they came back, they had nothing left. The number of single mothers increased drastically during the war. Many of them had no education, nor did they send their daughters to school. So we could see that there was a great need for organization,” says Rosalina Gonzalez, who has been active in AMICA (Asociación de Mujeres Indígenas de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua) since the organization was founded.
Another problem was the widespread violence that many women were afflicted by when their men came back to their families, traumatized and exhibiting military behavior.
“My husband wanted me to walk a few meters behind him in the street to show him respect. I told him that I’m not a soldier. That I wasn’t going to do it. That if he wanted to marry me, it would be on equal terms. We, women, have the right to half the power, and we’re not going to give up before we have it,” says Rosalina.
AMICA works for women’s rights on several levels. They offer courses on gender and violence and provide information on rights. A large part of the organization’s work concerns supporting women during legal processes. In recent years, reports of physical and mental violence have increased. But this is not solely negative, because it means that women are no longer staying silent. AMICA has also supported families of murdered women on several occasions.
Nora Hammer, a lawyer at AMICA, with Doris Borst Chow (right), chair of AMICA.
“Our work involves fighting against the monster that is men’s violence against women. Many times the perpetrator receives more support from the state than the women, but when we defend a victim, we can’t be afraid, we need to show that we’re strong and professional,” says Nora Hammer, a lawyer at AMICA.
Threatened due to her work
Nora herself has been threatened on several occasions due to her work. Recently a perpetrator tried to scare her into silence during an ongoing legal case. But Nora doesn’t intend to let threats hinder her work.
“I said to him, ‘If you hurt me, AMICA will find another lawyer and if you hurt her, they’ll find another. The process has already been initiated and you can’t stop it,” she says.
Nora also says that a major change in the organization is seeing is that women subjected to violence have started to talk more openly about their situation.
“Our culture has always told us that domestic violence is a private matter and not something to be discussed with outside parties. Increasing numbers of people now know this isn’t true, that violence is a structural problem,” she continues.
Shares her experiences
“Here in the region, several factors play a part: that you’re a woman, poor and indigenous, all of which lead to greater discrimination and violence,” says Rosalina.
Personally, she comes from a very poor background.
“I got my first shoes when I was 15 years old,” says Rosalina.
But she doesn’t care what people say or think about this.
“AMICA has given me a voice, and I’m telling my story to other women so that they understand that they can also break down barriers,” concludes Rosalina.