‘Yes, it happened in Colombia’ campaign launched for women victims of sexual violence

Posted on Aug 5 2014 - 11:13am by Today News
(Photo: Expreso Queretaro)

A Colombian women’s rights NGO has launched a campaign to tell the stories of victims of sexual violence in Colombia’s armed conflict, and to pressure delegations engaged in ongoing peace talks to act decisively and recognize these invisible victims.

The Humanas Corporation, which provides legal and psycho-social counsel to women victims, is petitioning the government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, to guarantee the rights to truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition of sexual violence towards women.

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According to a Humanas document given to Colombia Reports, “All the combatant groups are responsible for crimes [of sexual violence], including those who follow the orders of parties involved in peace negotiations currently staged in Havana: the Colombian government and the FARC-EP.”

Data from the Registry of Victims says that there are 5,706 victims of sexual violence; 86% are women.

Humanas also compiled data from the Forensic and Legal Medicine Institute which concludes that in 2013 there were 97 reported cases of sexual violence against women by armed actors of the conflict, representing a 33% increase from 2012.

Of the women who could identify their assailants, 35 said the assailants belonged to an organized criminal group, 30 attributed the crimes to members of Colombia’s armed forces, police, judicial police, and intelligence services; 19 women signaled out rebel groups, and 13 women implicated employees of private security companies.

2013 Alleged culprits in sexual violence cases

36% organized criminal groups
31% government forces
20% rebel groups
13% private security companies

According to the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine, even their registry of victims does not come close to measuring the true dimensions of sexual violence crimes in Colombia’s armed conflict.

The “Yes, it happened in Colombia” campaign is meant to show international solidarity with victims of sexual violence and demand the end of impunity to these crimes as a condition of an eventual peace agreement that results from the negotiations between the government and the FARC rebels in Cuba, according to Diana Lopez, representative of the Corporation.

According to statistics form the Prosecutor General’s Agency for Justice and Peace, of the 39,546 crimes confessed, only 96 corresponded to sexual violence and only two have been condemned for their sexual violence crimes. This indicates the continued prevalence of impunity that still exists with respect to many of these crimes.

The campaign started on Monday and will continue until November 25, featuring testimonies of women victims of sexual violence.

Sources

  • Documents provided by Corporacion Humanas
  • Interview with Diana Lopez

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