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The recent political struggle over gender-violence law in Nicaragua is a microcosm of these dynamics. Inthe Nicaraguan government passed its most comprehensive law on gender-based violence to date Ley The implications of this alliance go well beyond the particulars of Ley Indeed, recent statistics show that the Latin American continent is one of the most dangerous for women: In Nicaragua, it is estimated that one out of every two women has experienced some form of violence in her lifetime.
Over the last ten years, however, more than a dozen Latin American countries have passed new legislation criminalizing femicidio or feminicidio 1 and expanding legal leh for women [ECLAC, ; Lry, ].
Yet these legal gains have at times been met with forceful opposition, often from conservative and religious groups. Ley triggered an immediate backlash from Catholic and evangelical leaders in Nicaragua, who argued that the law was 22104 attack on family values and discriminatory against men.
Within 21240 years, Ley was substantially weakened through a series of legislative reforms and presidential decrees. Coupled with the broader suppression of political dissent, these trends point to the emergence of a patrimonial-authoritarian state in 2140, one that is increasingly immune from international pressure and accountability.
In a report issued following the gathering, the bishops declared: This has led to legal modifications which seriously damage the dignity of marriage, respect for life, and the identity of the family. To succeed, moral panics require at least three elements: More specifically, local religious actors perceived some of the key elements and language utilized in Ley to be an existential challenge to traditional notions of masculinity, femininity, sexuality, and the structure of the family.
Adopting this perspective of gender necessarily calls into question the fundamental assumption of patriarchal rule: As the mainstreaming of gender has expanded within both human rights and international development circles [Friedman, ; Merry, ], we have also witnessed a reinvigoration of groups which have historically defended traditional notions of the heterosexual family.
In a recent article analyzing patrimonialism in Brazil, Pereira  neatly laid out some of the main characteristics of patrimonial states. Describing the classic Weberian standpoint, he lwy As Tercero [, p. In this regard, President Ortega arguably represents a certain kind of continuity with his predecessors.
Of particular interest in this article is how patriarchal ideologies that are reproduced through patrimonial state structures. Understanding how such ideological scaffolding is used to justify and maintain patriarchal relations of rule is essential to its undoing.
For the purposes of this article, I draw primarily upon the content analysis portion of my research, supplemented by relevant ethnographic material that provides additional context and evidence for the argument. As Heumann [, p.
Over the last twenty-five years, these organizations have maintained a critical stance toward both the FSLN and its historic opposition, the PLC. Over the last two decades, feminist leaders also have been subjected to political threats, intimidation, and even physical attacks by surrogates of the PLC and 22140 [Kampwirth, ].
Instead, he adopted a message of political and familial unity and sought the support of powerful religious leaders. In a public statement in AugustMurillo commented: Just two weeks before the election, in a complete about-face from its historic position, the National Assembly voted to ban abortion under all circumstances, a law which Ortega pledged to support a promise he has kept, as of this writing.
Under the leadership of Rosario Murillo later named spokesperson for the governmentthe CPCs rapidly became highly partisan instruments, supplanting the authority of mayors and other city officials [Cerda, ].
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By contrast, Ortega took clear steps to win the favor of evangelicals during his term, inaugurating a monument and a park in honor of the bible, and granting dozens of land titles to build new churches [ Protestante Digital]. Later that year, a Sandinista-majority Supreme Court nullified the constitutional prohibition key presidential re-election, clearing the way for Ortega to run again in Although most Nicaraguans still profess Catholicism, there are also now approximately two million evangelicals in the country, belonging to dozens of different protestant denominations [Silva, ].
However, the electoral process was again marked by serious irregularities [Carter Center, ]. In a public statement, Navarro affirmed: Prior to Leymediation was commonly used by Nicaraguan police to informally settle domestic violence cases, a practice that often put the lives of women in further jeopardy. This language recognized the violence to which lsy are subjected on the basis of their gender, irrespective of marital or family status. In fact, just weeks before Ley was scheduled to go into effect, there was no budget let fund most of 221400 major mandates, such as additional state prosecutors and courts specializing in gender violence.
Textually, the specific provision that generated the most controversy was the ban on mediation.
In addition to the concerns over mediation, the other main objection to Ley were the special tribunals established for gender-based violence cases, which opponents claimed discriminated against men. Attorneys involved in the litigation was quoted in the local press, saying: Despite the opposition of local and international human rights organizations, the National Assembly responded by drafting a modified law that permitted mediation under the 2140 conditions: The modified law passed with overwhelming approval: Even after the revised law had passed, complaints about Ley continued to dominate local news coverage, 2240 concerns ranging from overcrowded prisons due to an increase in men convicted under Ley to the so-called destruction of the family.
In defense of the reincorporation of mediation, Chief Justice Alba Luz Ramos later claimed that the reform was necessary because of a provision of the Organic Law of the Judicial Ely which requires that the opportunity for mediation be provided prior to any judicial action [Le Lous, ].
This report drew the attention of local feminist organizations because the number of femicides was far lower than the 47 they had documented independently.
Feminist activists I spoke to at the time were pey that the police were not counting femicides accurately because the Ortega government had plans to further modify the law. Lej late JulyPresident Ortega unexpectedly issued a special decree Decreto containing 222140 new reglamento or set of regulations for the implementation 222140 Leymonths after such regulations would have been constitutionally permitted. Third, it shifted the responsibility for implementing Ley from an interinstitutional commission to the Ministry of the Family.
According to the decree, these counseling groups would be led by the same individuals already active in the FSLN-controlled Cabinets of the Family the reformulation of the Lfy as well as pastors and other religious leaders. Instead, the Supreme Court publicly defended the new regulations. Changing the definition of femicide, Justice Ramos maintained, was irrelevant because crimes not prosecuted as femicides would instead proceed under the charge of murder, which carried just as severe of a penalty.
As we approached a major intersection, we encountered a line of men dressed in dark blue polo shirts and Sandinista baseball caps blocking our way. Some women leaders argued with the police who were also there, while others recorded the incident on their cameras.
One wall featured a large bulletin board with several posters.
Give God control of your family today and always. In the lead-up to the election, even the Episcopal Conference criticized Ortega for his moves to create a one-party state [Mendieta, ]. By this time, however, Ortega and Murillo seemed beholden to no one. Adopting and manipulating religious fundamentalist rhetoric, and selectively granting favors to conservative religious leaders, effectively served this purpose.
Rather, it was the passage of a progressive gender violence law in the 2140 place that did not fit the pattern. As soon as the backlash to Ley began, that window of opportunity promptly vanished. The purpose for integrating religious leaders into these groups was not in fact to grant power to churches, but rather to reinforce the hegemonic beliefs that enable and normalize patriarchal rule in the first place.
Gender-based violence and the patrimonial state in Nicaragua: The rise and fall of Ley
Contained within these recent calls for unity and harmony are echoes of the rhetoric that the FSLN used back in the s to marginalize feminist demands [Heumann, ]. Yet sincethe spaces for feminists and other dissenting groups to contest hegemonic patriarchal discourses and present counter-narratives containing alternative visions of society are increasingly limited. Although the government appeared to take a step in the 221440 direction with the passage of Ley insince that time, the Ortega government has reversed course entirely, presenting an image of forced harmony rather than address the root leg of gender-based violence.
Htun Mala, Sex and the State: Lessons from NicaraguaSpringer, Lancaster Roger, Life is Hard: Staudt Kathleen, Violence and Activism at the Border: Feminicidio a term coined by Mexican feminist and legislator Marcela Lagarde extends this definition to emphasize the responsibility of the state for perpetuating these crimes against women in contexts of high impunity.
In general, however, these policies are ones that do not fundamentally threaten his political alliance with conservative religious groups. El avance y retroceso de la Ley Plan Gender, panic, and patrimonialism: Gender and patrimonial authoritarianism in Nicaragua. Feminicidio a term coined b Notes 1 Femicidio refers to the killing of a woman on the basis of her gender.