Nicaragua ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Nicaragua has a good legal framework, policies and plans to protect children, but very often laws are not enforced and plans and policies lack funds for implementation. Poverty in the country limits the fulfillment of children’s rights to an adequate standard of living, health, growth and development. A persistent culture of violence affects children’s rights to freedoms from violence, abuse and maltreatment. Regarding education, approximately 500,000 children are out of the school system and of those attending school, only 45% complete 6th grade. Nicaragua has still 22% illiterate adults. The main causes of death among children under 5 years are respiratory diseases, diarrhea, malnutrition, and meningitis. Infant and 0-5 year mortality rates are 22 and 26 per 1000 live births, respectively. Maternal mortality rate is 77 per 100,000 live births . 89 women were murdered in 2010, including nine girls between 2 and 10 years of age.
Harmful traditional practices:
The main harmful traditional practice against Children in Nicaragua is physical punishment and maltreatment. Usually parents consider that children are their property and that no one should interfere with how they educate or discipline their children. Rape and sexual abuse of teenage girls is also widespread, with nearly half of rape victims girls under 15 years of age.
Children without appropriate care and children on the move:
Approximately 10,598 children and adolescents in Nicaragua live and/or work in the streets . Most of them are not receiving attention from governmental institutions. According to the Ministry of the Family, 70 migrant children were repatriated to Nicaragua in 2009. During the first four months of 2011, twelve cases of human trafficking were officially; 6 of these have been prosecuted and 3 resulted in convictions .
Emergency situations and children:
Nicaragua’s geographic location makes the country a frequent target for hurricanes, droughts and fires, volcanic eruptions and severe earthquakes. As of May 2011, Nicaragua’s Civil Defense reports that 5,903 persons have been evacuated and are in shelters due to rains and floods, most of them displaced since last year’s rainy season . At least half of these displaced people are children.
According to ILO and the National Commission for the eradication of child labor in Nicaragua, about 240 thousand children are working in Nicaragua. These include about 20 thousand children from 5-9 years old, 70 thousand between 10 and 13 years, and 150 thousand from ages 14-17. More than half of working children work in rural areas, and only 60% of them attend school.
Nicaragua’s legal framework does not prohibit corporal punishment. Article 155 of the Penal Code allows physical punishment of children by parents if it is done as a “disciplinary action”. Studies carried out by Save the Children have shown that between 60-70% of parents admit to using physical punishment against their children. This will be addressed in the Family Code legislation and amendments to Penal Code, which are expected to pass during 2011. Physical punishment and other degrading treatment have been abolished in schools and in the penal system.
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