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Fighting tradition: Changing norms of gender violence in Miskitu society

Laura Hobson Herlihy


This article concerns gender violence against indigenous Miskitu women in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) by examining how violence toward RAAN women is linked not only to culturally-based perceptions of love and marriage, but also to disruptive gender relations caused by neoliberal economic policies of the state and the lack of justice accessible to women through Nicaraguan customary law (derecho indígena o consuetudinario). The second part of the article reveals that RAAN women are beginning to view gender violence as criminal behaviour, especially when their children are the victims of aggressors. Increasingly, women are seeking justice for themselves and their daughters through the national system of justice and through governmental and non-governmental organizations. Conclusions suggest that while multiple and convergent cultural, economic, and politico-juridical factors have generated and institutionalized intra-familial violence in Miskitu society, recent changes will de-centre the normalization of violence within the next generation.



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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740