Estelí is a city and municipality, and the Estelí department is located in the north-western part of Nicaragua. It is Nicaragua’s third largest city with a population of 90,294. It lies on the Pan-American Highway that links almost all the countries of the American continent. The city of Estelí is the centre of Nicaragua’s cigar economy and home to world-renowned cigar brands.
Violence against women and girls is commonplace in Nicaragua. Almost 40% of women experienced violence at the hands of their partner or ex-partner. Another challenge for Nicaragua is child sexual abuse.
Since 1973, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Estelí.
Nicaragua has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America. According to the United Nations, 28% of women have had a child before they were 18.
Victims of sexual abuse or rape are often forced to leave home or, worse, live with the perpetrator. Many are rejected when they try to talk about what happened to them, because sex is still a taboo subject or the perpetrator is a relative. Victims of rape and sexual abuse often receive insufficient attention from police, prosecutors and judges.
Children under the age of five who are chronically malnourished do not have the food they need to support their cognitive and neurological development. This has irreversible and lasting effects on children's health.
Malnutrition is strongly related to social inequality. Children who grow up in families facing financial hardship are the hardest hit. In addition, indigenous children living in rural areas are twice as likely to be stunted as non-indigenous children.