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A Year After Nicaragua’s Uprising, Women Of All Ages Are Leading Resistance

Jorge Torres/EFE

It’s been one year since Nicaragua’s civic uprising, and women, who have been uniquely impacted by political violence, are still fighting back.

On April 18, 2018, protestors took to the streets throughout the Central American country, demonstrating against Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s government, particularly the president’s social security reform proposals, in a mass rally that sparked an even bigger and longer anti-government movement.

Since then, the government has responded to the mass opposition with violence. Police and paramilitary groups are often sent to rallies to intimidate protestors and deter observers from joining protests. On April 19, authorities’ shots claimed the lives of two young men, Darwin Manuel Urbina, 29, and Richard Eduardo Pavón, 17. A year later, more than 300 are dead, 700 are in jail and 62,000 in exile.

These deaths have directly impacted women — their mothers, partners, siblings and friends — who are turning their pain and anger into fuel for their political fight. Throughout the nation, women have been playing key roles in the opposition movement.

Last year, when Ortega denied there had been any student killings, 21-year-old Madelaine Caracas read out the names of all those deceased, gaining instant repute.

She’s not alone.

A group called Mothers of April, which bands the mothers of those who were killed, jailed or disappeared, has since formed. Together, they offer each other support and make demands, like ending repression, disbanding paramilitary groups and holding elections earlier than those scheduled for 2021.

One of the mothers is Yardira Cordoba, whose son Orlando was shot during a Mother’s Day march in May 2018 when snipers killed 19 people. He was just 15 years old. According to his mom, Orlando, who played drums at his church, left his high school to attend the march on his own. When Cordoba, 45, learned of his presence and that he was wounded, she rushed to the hospital, where he died. “I fell on the floor, crying,” she told Al Jazeera.

The mom, who then faced harassment by pro-government supporters, was forced to move across town. Another of her sons lost his government job because of the publicity and moved to Costa Rica. Long scared to speak out, she joined the mother’s group, seeking support and change.

“I want justice, for my son and all the others,” she said.

Long-time feminist activists in the country are also leading efforts. At 69, Marlen Chow, a sociologist who carried an AK-47 in the Sandinista revolution that overthrew United States-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, has since taken on the government that succeeded him.

She was arrested last October for protesting. When police asked her which group she was representing, she said “Pico Rojo,” or red lipstick, igniting the hashtag #SoyPicoRojo, with women and men protesting Ortega and showing their solidarity with Chow by posting photos of themselves in red lipstick.

The women’s efforts have helped ignite some change. Ortega has agreed to release some prisoners, allow people to practice their legal right to protest and let media report on demonstrations and Nicaraguan politics freely. However, human rights officials at the United Nations have said that the president hasn’t followed through on all of his promises.

Until he does, he can count on women to be on the frontlines of resistance.

Read: These Young Nicaraguan Women Are Pushing Back Against State Violence Through The Power Of Art

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A Researcher Created A Map To Track All Of The Women That Are Murdered In Mexico And It Is Shocking

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A Researcher Created A Map To Track All Of The Women That Are Murdered In Mexico And It Is Shocking

The violence against women in Mexico continues to rise to alarming rates. They are dying at the hands of domestic assailants as well as organized crime culprits. In 2018, 3,580 women and girls were killed in Mexico, the Associated Press reports. 

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is aiming to curtail this epidemic under his new administration by conducting thorough murder investigations, having a stronger judicial system to prosecute offenders and, among other initiatives, to search for women who are missing as soon as it’s reported.

“All of them have a common factor: the lack of timely and diligent intervention by the Mexican state to preserve their integrity and to ensure their lives,” Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said, according to the AP.

Until the new government gets their act together, one woman is making sure the death of every woman in Mexico doesn’t go unnoticed. 

María Salguero, a geophysics scholar, and researcher, has created a mapping system to keep track of each woman that is murdered in Mexico. 

According to news reports, Salguero said that worldwide attention (or at least in the U.S. and in Mexico) surrounded the deaths of women that occurred only in Ciudad de Juarez. She said she wanted to not only track the deaths of women all over Mexico but also to have their names in a recorded document because it’s crucial to name them. 

She began tracking the femicide in her country in 2016 and initially began by getting Google alerts of violence against women. 

Since she first started the project, Salguero has obtained the records of “more than 6,000 cases of femicide dating back to 2011. In 27 cases, authorities were unable to establish the woman’s identity. In 70 cases, the victim was a trans woman,” Open Democracy states. 

Her tracking system is detailed and includes the victim’s name, where their body was found, and of course the city and state. 

This work is a labor of love for Salguero who works full-time at the National Search Commission of Mexico. She said she works on the mapping system on her off time and it takes up to five hours a day, depending on the workload. 

According to Salguero’s tracking system, the overwhelming majority of femicide is occurring in the state of Mexico.

Her report, which is also verified by state records, show that in 2018 400 women died in Mexico state, followed by Guanajuato, Baja California, Guerrero, and Jalisco. The state with the least murders is Yucatan. 

She also notes that the numbers provided by country officials may not be accurate and could be a lot higher than they are reporting. 

“Only a part of the problem is documented by the press and not all. There is a 15 percent national bias in the official data. There are women who arrive injured in health systems and die because of the seriousness of the injuries and are not reported by the press, women who are murdered or in their homes or communities far away and there was not a means to cover them,” she said. “The bodies which are found but the sex is undetermined, are cases that can not be documented.”

Women in Mexico don’t just live in fear of death, but they also endure day-to-day harassment.

According to a United Nations report, a survey showed that almost 90 percent of women experience sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence in public spaces in Mexico City alone. These public places include subways, buses, and streets. 

Yeliz Osman, Safe Cities, and Safe Public Spaces Programme Coordinator at UN Women in Mexico said that the same harassment that women face in Mexico is the same in other parts of the world. “The overwhelming majority of women who participated in focus groups said that they experience some form of sexual harassment in their daily journeys. She adds, “These behaviors have been so normalized and naturalized within societies that women themselves don’t often consider it important enough to report and men don’t even realize in many cases that this is actually a form of violence and the impact that it has on women and girls.”

Click here to visit Salguero’s tracking system of femicides in Mexico.

22 Out-Of-This-World-Type Of Bizarre Facts About Pregnancy

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22 Out-Of-This-World-Type Of Bizarre Facts About Pregnancy

There’s no greater evidence for the changes our bodies go through during pregnancy than our stomachs. But how much do you know about the weird and the wonderful changes that occur outside of the size of growing bellies? We’ve put together a list of things to possibly expect when you’re expecting, for those of you who think you know it all.

1. Fetal stem cells start to repair your body.

Instagram / @xlmedica

Even though stem cells have been traditionally associated with keeping the baby healthy through the umbilical cord, scientists have discovered more recently that it’s common for stem cells to travel all around the body. They can even go so far as the brain!

2. Your hair starts to get thicker and shinier.

Instagram / @cgsthestylist

Hair growth speeds up during pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if you find that your hair suddenly turns into bombshell babe-like tresses. You also don’t shed hair as much as what you normally would. You can thank estrogen for this.

3. Hair also starts to grow on other parts of your body.

Instagram / @lespapierssontpolitiques

It isn’t just the hair on your scalp that gets affected by pregnancy – so does the rest of your body hair! Testosterone levels increase during pregnancy, which can also make the body grow thick hair in places you may not have been expecting. Think: on your abdomen, face, chest, and back!

4. Cravings are a thing.

Instagram / @onegs_com

The reason why cravings happen is because all the pregnancy hormones can disrupt taste and smell receptors. That’s why it’s completely legit that your friend’s mom snacked on ice cream and ketchup when she was pregnant. Sometimes it’s worth paying attention to cravings though because they might indicate a nutrient deficiency.

5. You’ve got to start managing bad breath.

Instagram / @daisylife.in

Yep. You’ve gotta keep an eye out for pregnancy gingivitis! Pregnancy hormones can make the gums more susceptible to plaque, which then leads to inflammation and bleeding. It might be worth considering a dental checkup if you get pregnant.

6. You produce more estrogen in a day than you normally would in a year.

Instagram / @macarenapaz_xo

That’s right! You start to produce way more estrogen. Like, a lot. When you’re almost at full term, you can produce more estrogen in a day than what you would normally do over the course of three years. No wonder pregnant people get so affected by their hormone levels!

7. Heartburn becomes more common.

Instagram / @wellnessafrica

Since pregnant bodies produce more estrogen and progesterone, this relaxes the esophagus. It’s because of this relaxation that you can then experience acid reflux or heartburn. Oddly enough, it’s been found that people who suffer from heartburn during pregnancy are more likely to have given birth to babies with lots of hair!

8. You gain the ability to lactate.

Instagram / @lacta8

You don’t need to have had your baby to start lactating. To be honest, all you need is a bun in the oven, and to hear a baby start to cry. It’s that easy.

9. The vagina changes color.

Instagram / @hhadiio

And, in some cases, it’s a really dramatic change, too. While some people report it just simply turning a darker color, others have found theirs to turn purple, or even bluish. The medical term for this is known as the Chadwick Sign. Thankfully, this isn’t a permanent change – usually, everything goes back to normal after delivery.

10. Your sense of smell becomes stronger.

Instagram / @fonsecagarcia

In the first trimester, it’s pretty common for pregnant people to gain the superpower of a heightened sense of smell. And while that might be great if you’re surrounded by flowers, it might be less fabulous if, say, you’re stuck on a small bus with a bunch of sweaty, smelly bodies.

11. A chemical called relaxin softens your ligaments.

Instagram / @yinyang_gyal

Don’t worry, this is all 100 percent natural. It’s a special hormone that the body releases to make your pelvis more flexible during childbirth. Chances are, this is when you’ll find your yoga game is top notch. Just be careful not to break any bones!

12. Your sugar levels may go out of whack.

Instagram / @sugar_uykka

Granted, pregnant people are basically feeding and watering a tiny little body inside their own body. So for some people, they may find that their pancreas can’t keep up with providing the needed insulin for digestion. These people then have to manage gestational diabetes. Don’t worry, though, it’s usually not permanent and will disappear after giving birth.

13. It’s completely normal for your voice to change.

Instagram / @muresanozana

Considering that you’ve got all of this estrogen and progesterone whizzing around your body, it’s unsurprising that your voice might change! These hormones can cause swelling in your vocal cords, which is why you might lose some of your higher pitches, but find that you can hit lower ones.

14. Your heart grows bigger.

Instagram / @_igec

No, it’s not because you’ve got so much more love in your life now that you’re expecting a little bundle of joy. The heart has a lot more work to do, now that you’ve essentially become a life support system! So to compensate for that, the heart increases in size.

15. Your blood volume can increase by 40-50 percent.

Instagram / @aroundimages

Not only do you need a bigger heart for an impending baby, but you also need more blood to keep the little one satisfied! This is so that the fetus has enough oxygenated blood coming to it while it’s still developing.

16. Your uterus also expands.

Instagram / @fabulously_glam_event_decor

Or, basically, everything just seems to get bigger. The coolest thing, though, is your uterus goes from being around the size of a peach, to the equivalent of a watermelon.

17. Pregnancy is a good excuse to go shoe shopping.

Instagram / @cassyfremont

Yeah, even your feet aren’t exempt from the whole swelling process. Some people find that their feet can grow a full shoe size when they’re pregnant!

18. You’ll develop another organ.

Instagram / @rachelleskillingart

Science-fiction has absolutely nothing on actual real-life pregnancy. Believe it or not, the placenta is classified as an organ.

19. Melasma appears.

Instagram / @livethelime

What on earth is melasma, you ask? It’s also known as the “mask of pregnancy”, which causes dark splotches to appear on your face. Basically, it’s really common for people to see their skin darken when they’re pregnant: those extra pregnancy hormones can cause an increase in pigmentation.

20. You’ll become particularly orgasmic.

Instagram / @lavish__interiors

All the extra blood flow around the body means that you’ll get a real boost in your libido, and all you’ll wanna do is stay in bed. But you know what else? Chances are you’ll find that’ll change at the drop of a hat, and you’ll be ready to strike anyone who dares to even touch you. Why? Hormones, of course.

How many of these facts surprised you? Or, better yet, how many of these have you experienced when being pregnant? Tell us about it on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

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