Nicaragua’s Parliament has voted to reform the nation's criminal code, bringing in harsher punishment for violence against women and children
The new laws will increase prison terms for crimes including parricide, murder, child rape and aggravated rape.
The changes also extend to higher penalties for aggravated assault; offenders will now receive a maximum of 20 years in jail.
Aggravated murder sentences will be raised to 30 years and those found guilty of assaulting a minor will receive 20 to 25 year terms.
Perpetrators of femicide will be sentenced 20-25 years in prison and violators of children under the age of 14 will receive a similar maximum sentence.
Lawmakers also created a new crime of aggravated manslaughter or injuries that will apply to traffic accidents caused by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
They will be liable to a punishment of up to eight years in prison, the maximum penalty had been four to six years.The president of the Commission on Children and Family, Carlos Emilio Lopez, said the reforms will "guarantee the safety of Nicaraguans."
Femicides in Latin America
But the Liberal Constitutionalist, PLC, party did not vote for the laws.
The PLC deputy, Maximino Rodriguez, criticized the reforms and said "these are obviously violating several articles of the Political Constitution of the Republic."
Rodriquez also said they contravene "internationally guaranteed human rights, such as the principle of presumption of innocence"
A recent report by Institute of Legal Medicine says women are still the main victims of violence in Nicaragua.
At least 49 were victims of femicide in 2016, four fewer than the previous year.
Most were victims of domestic attacks according to the group Catholics for the Right to Decide.
Four teenagers aged between 13 and 17 were among the dead, some had been raped before they were killed.