Blaming the victim in Nicaragua

Independent:

Connie was just nine years old when her father first raped her. The abuse continued until she was 14. She told Amnesty International that her father would regularly hit her so much that she was unable to go to school the next day. Why? Chillingly because he wanted her to stay at home so “he could abuse her as much as he wanted”.

Throughout those five years Connie felt powerless to say anything, or to speak up.

The abuse came to an end when, at 14, Connie became pregnant. At that point the police got involved and visited the house. Shortly after the police left (without taking action), Connie’s father tried to commit suicide and died in hospital shortly afterwards. When Connie’s situation was finally revealed, rather than receiving the care she desperately needed, Connie had to deal with a barrage of criticism from her teachers and her own brothers who blamed her for leaving them without a father.

Today Connie is 17 years old and still struggling to rebuild her life. She was forced out of the family home by her brothers, who no longer speak to her.

For any young girl the emotional distress – particularly if the attacker is a relative – along with the physical trauma of rape or any sexual violence is a suffering unimaginable for most of us.

Essential to any young girl’s successful rehabilitation is the appropriate treatment and support to rebuild her life. However, for thousands of girls in Nicaragua this is rarely what happens. Instead the response from both society and the authorities alike mirrors the reaction of Connie’s family. The victim is regularly treated as the person in the wrong and very little support is offered to these girls.

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Something is wrong with this culture that tolerates the abuse and then victimizes the victim again. The moral fabric of civilization seems to be missing in Nicaragua.

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