October 10, 2011

Women in Nicaragua, often too timid to speak for themselves, have been beaten and sometimes killed by their partners or husbands who were unable or unwilling to see this as a crime, as unacceptable, as a way of life that needed to be changed.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that nongovernmental organizations "estimate that up to 60 per cent of (Nicaraguan) women have been physically abused by a partner at least once."

Enter Catholic Relief Services and its partner agency, Caritas Nicaragua, which joined forces to reduce the violence against women by providing programming for men.

The agencies' officials said they saw the potential to reduce the violence, save women's lives and promote healthy families in the process.

Hugh Aprile, CRS country representative for Nicaragua, said that operating from the machismo concept, men have an exaggerated sense of masculinity that promotes their courage, their virility, their dominance of women and their aggressiveness.

When that "cocktail" is stirred, women can become the object of dissatisfaction or rage.

The two Church agencies began 12 pilot programs in three areas in the central part of the country near Matiguas.

There, training began for the programs to convince men to change their behaviour toward the women in their lives, especially their wives or partners.