Dorset

Butterfly garden highlights Nicaraguan women's plight

Robert Kennett with a butterfly PHOTO: Emma Farquhar
Image caption Mr Kennett worked with butterfly specialists to create a suitable environment

A Dorset designer has created a garden using hundreds of tropical butterflies to highlight the plight of abused and oppressed women in Nicaragua.

Robert Kennett's show garden is one of seven conceptual designs at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in Surrey.

The garden was inspired by Amnesty International's Butterflies of Hope campaign and won a Gold Medal in this year's show

The charity is campaigning to stop "widespread sexual abuse" against girls and young women and end the ban on abortion in the South American country.

The Tisbury-based designer worked with Butterfly World in Hertfordshire to create a display with the right conditions for the butterflies.

He said: "You have to keep the humidity at 70%, have the temperature about 25C-30C and have plenty of nectar."

'Heavy silence'

The garden consists of a large pink cube filled with the butterflies and tropical plants.

At its centre is a Frangipani, Nicaragua's national flower, in a pot wrapped in barbed wire.

Mr Kennett said he began developing the idea while at home. He said: "I was sitting in the garden and there was no sound at all, the silence was almost heavy.

"I started to think about the other type of silence, where people are not allowed to speak up and express themselves.

Image caption The show garden was inspired by a campaign to halt abuse against women in Nicaragua

"I immediately associated silence with Amnesty and looked on their website to see what campaigns they were running."

Mr Kennett, who has two daughters, approached Amnesty about the project before beginning work on the garden in January.

'Real stigma'

He said he was shocked to discover that more than 14,000 women in Nicaragua, many under 17, had been raped in the last 10 years.

He said: "There's a real stigma there - it's thought of as the victim's fault - and in 2003 they imposed a blanket ban on abortion.

"Altogether I thought there were many women silenced there and I could help express things they couldn't say."

Amnesty's poverty and human rights campaign manager, Naomi McAuliffe, said: "This is a fantastic and creative way to raise awareness about our work in Nicaragua.

"Butterflies have been a theme of this campaign with supporters sending butterflies of solidarity to women's organisations in Nicaragua who are working hard on the issue of sexual violence against women and girls in a hostile political environment."

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show runs from Tuesday until Sunday.

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