In solidarity with Colombia’s survivors of sexual violence

Thousands of Colombian women and girls endure rape and other sexual violence amid the decades-old armed conflict. © Corporación Sisma Mujer

By Ulrike Beck of the Colombia team at Amnesty International

As people around the world prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, thousands of women and girls continue to endure rape and other sexual violence at the hands of armed forces, paramilitaries and guerrillas in Colombia’s decades-old armed conflict.

The vast majority of these crimes are never reported. Where they are reported, assaults frequently go unpunished. This International Women’s Day, you can let the survivors know that they are not alone by expressing solidarity with them and their fight for justice.

While researching a recent report on the lack of justice for sexual violence in Colombia’s armed conflict, Amnesty International spoke with dozens of survivors and their relatives.

The women’s heartbreaking stories illustrate the challenges they face in denouncing sexual violence related to the conflict.

Angélica told us how she was held against her will for 10 years as a domestic and sexual slave by a man thought to be a member or a collaborator of the FARC guerrilla group. In her search for justice, she walked from door to door in the capital Bogotá until her feet were bloodied and blistered, but no one would listen to her.

Blanca, a woman campaigning for justice after her three daughters were raped and killed by paramilitaries, related how police officers in charge of her protection would arrive at her home in a large group and then disappear for weeks at a time, leaving her vulnerable. Her neighbours grew suspicious of her dealings with the police.

Mari fled the area where she was repeatedly raped by paramilitaries and attempted to forget the traumatic experience. When she finally built up the courage to denounce the crimes at the Attorney General’s office, they responded in disbelief: “Another one? Another rape?”

When 14-year-old Dora went to file a complaint about her sexual assault, she was left alone with the perpetrator, a police officer, and told to seek conciliation.

These are just four of the brave women who shared their stories. You can listen to one woman’s story in her own words.

When Amnesty International shared its completed report with the women, Angélica was surprised that we had not forgotten her. You can help us to make her and other voices heard, and let them know they are not forgotten.

In 2008, Colombia’s Constitutional Court recognized that “sexual violence against women is a habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible practice in the Colombian armed conflict.” But the true scale of the problem remains unknown as there is no accurate data and no national data collection process.

The Constitutional Court ordered the Attorney General to investigate 183 cases of sexual violence in 2008. At the time we published our report, only 68 additional cases of conflict-related sexual violence were under investigation. In only a handful of these cases have the perpetrators been identified, let alone brought to justice.

In December 2011, a Colombian court convicted a paramilitary for sexual crimes, the first such verdict in the Justice and Peace process. In this case a paramilitary group – which at the time operated with the support of Colombia’s armed forces – had “confessed” to more than 2,000 individual crimes including mass killings, enforced disappearances and forced displacements.

But the perpetrators continue to deny their part in the widespread and systematic sexual abuse of women and girls – only three rapes were among this litany of crime confessed by members of this particular group.

“This is what we demand, justice!” said Clara, who faced sexual violence by members of the Colombian armed forces and is one of the women Amnesty International spoke with.

Now we are asking you to write solidarity messages to these brave women who survived sexual violence and took the risk to seek justice for all of Colombia’s women and girl survivors of conflict-related sexual crimes.

Disclaimer: For the safety of the women we interviewed, Amnesty International has disguised their real names.

Take action:
Solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence in Colombia
(Online action)

Read more:
Colombian authorities fail survivors of sexual violence
(News story, 21 September 2011)
‘This is what we demand. Justice!’ Impunity for sexual violence against women in Colombia’s armed conflict
(Report, 21 September 2011)
Women in danger on Colombia’s front line (Blog, 21 September 2011)

Posted in Armed Conflict, Colombia, Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Women | 30 Comments

  1. Laura Bigon says:

    no more sexual violence against women

  2. Simoes Bernard Placide says:

    J’espère que ce commentaire peut servir à soutenir la lutte de ces femmes.

  3. Margaret Fortune says:

    Please respect and treat women as equals!

  4. biobele igonikon says:

    stop sexual violence against women next person may be you sister

  5. Pat Williams says:

    No more violence and abuse against women

  6. Said Ellouz says:

    Please respect and treat women as equals!

  7. Kathleen Coen says:

    Yo también exijo que se haga justicia para las víctimas de la violencia sexual en Colombia

  8. Clay Johnson says:

    I hope that all abused women in Colombia get the justice that they deserve!

  9. Guhmann Claudio says:

    STOP SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN COLOMBIA NOW !!!

  10. Marta says:

    Todas las mujeres merecem lo mejor!

  11. pat marin says:

    NO MÁS VIOLENCIA SEXUAL!!

  12. Lamiel says:

    Pas de violence ni contre les femmes ni contre les hommes

  13. Dubois André says:

    !Por favor respectan a las mujeres y a las niñas!

  14. FACCHIN Loretta says:

    Pour la dignité de toutes les femmes colombiennes

  15. Christine Stemp says:

    ¡Seguiremos luchando por la justicia para víctimas del abuso sexual!

  16. Barbara Hodges says:

    The Columbian authorities must defend innocent civilians against the perpetrators of rape and violence, if Columbia is ever to become a country whose government is respected by other nations.

  17. NUTELET MYRIAM says:

    En pensées avec toutes les femmes et hommes victimes de violences sexuelles.

  18. christiane campill says:

    please protect women around Colombia !

  19. Anna Brynell says:

    Please, take decisive action to end impunity in cases of violence against women!

  20. Jürg Kohli says:

    Sexual abuse and violence are not to be accepted

  21. Joris says:

    Courage ! Que la justice et la paix triomphent !

  22. Agneta Tannerfeldt says:

    Stop violence and abuse against women

  23. Mike Mannion says:

    Que dejan las mujeres en paz!

  24. M.van Tilburg says:

    Stop the violence against women

  25. Pietie Arends says:

    stop the violence against women

  26. Mark de Jong says:

    Justice for all sexual abused women in Colombia!

  27. Juan Carlos Santoyo says:

    Stop NOW any form of the violence against women and girls in Colombia.

  28. Håkan Björkman says:

    Stop violence agaist women

  29. proenza says:

    Respeto por mi madre, mis hijas, mis hermanas, por todas las mujeres colombianas y del mundo!

  30. Helene Bacquie says:

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T for all women in Colombia !!!

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