The nine feminists accused of covering up the rape of a young Nicaraguan girl who has become the symbol of the pro-abortion movement in the country have requested that attorney general Julio Centeno Gomez reject the lawsuit that has been filed against them, saying they are victims of political persecution.
In 2003, the Women’s Network Against Violence orchestrated an abortion for “Rosita,” a nine year-old girl who became pregnant through rape, with the support of her stepfather, Francisco Fletes Sanchez, who accused a neighbor of raping the girl.
Based on the testimony of Fletes, the feminist organization launched a campaign that included a book and a television report broadcast in the US and Latin America.
Last year the girl, now 14, was discovered to be pregnant again, and tests revealed she had again been raped by her stepfather. The girl’s mother, Maria de los Santos Esquivel, finally confessed that the stepfather was responsible for the first rape. Feminists turned him into a hero.
Members of the feminist organization were accused of being involved in the case last October by Roberto Petray of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.
Petray noted that the stepfather authorized an abortion to be performed on Rosita and that it was his opinion that the Women’s Network knew about it. He has called for the organization to be investigated for covering up the rape.
Martha Munguia, one of the women accused of the cover-up, called Petray an “instrument of political persecution,” and together with other members of the organization, alleged that Petray is attempting to prevent them from carrying out their role as leaders in the “defense of the human rights of women and children.”
Carlos Polo, director of the Latin American Office of the Population Research Institute, said the feminists “want to make us believe that an average citizen is politically persecuting well-financed feminist organizations whose representatives don’t appear to be suffering economically.” “As if that wasn’t enough, they enjoy the support of many government representatives from developed countries and from the European Community that have made approval of abortion a condition of their financial assistance, which they have ultimately decided to suspend. So, who is persecuting who? Political persecution has been a popular tactic for those who know they have done wrong and are trying to keep their crimes from being punished. In my opinion, this attitude is one more clue in addition to those already uncovered by Mr. Petray,” he said.
For his part, Carlos Sanchez Guillen, advisor of the Pro-Life Movement in Nicaragua, told CNA that the Attorney General has the obligation to investigate all cases that come to his office, and “it is unusual that people appeal to him in order to avoid a court case.”
“I can’t say there has been a political persecution. What there has been is an accusation that a particular citizen has committed a crime,” Guillen said. “What exits now is a process of investigation, no one has been found guilty up to this point. In my opinion this is a normal procedure that the law establishes and that does not amount to political persecution,” he added.
Guillen pointed out that those under investigation by the Attorney General “have the responsibility to collaborate, and even more so if an accusation exits against a citizen and this citizen knows he is innocent.”