In Colombia, as in other countries, women suffer structural discrimination and live in a clearly unequal position in relation to men. In a patriarchal society like Colombia, women suffer inequalities in all aspects of life: labour market access, land property and political participation.
According to the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office in Colombia, around 70 percent of women in Colombia have suffered some form of violence (physical, psychological or political), and up to 80% of victims do not report crimes committed against them.
It is important to take into account when analyzing violence against women in Colombia, the double victimization they suffer due to living in a patriarchal society where structural discrimination is the norm and in a situation of armed conflict. One of the cruelest effects of this situation in Colombia is the way that sexual violence has been used as part of the armed conflict to control women.
Sexual violence as a weapon of war
All armed parties to the internal armed conflict in Colombia continue to use sexual violence as a strategy of war and terror.
Between 2001 and 2009, 489.687 women were direct victims of sexual violence, which means six women every hour.
In March 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights asked the Colombian State to "adopt a policy for the systematic investigation of cases of sexual violence and to quickly move forward in the investigation of alleged cases”.
There is almost total impunity and there are high levels of underreporting of crimes of sexual violence because the victims are afraid to report their attackers, or because of a lack of sensitivity and training of public officials, which leads to the revictimization of women who dare to report the facts.
Forced displacement and Ruling 092 of 2008
According to figures from the NGO CODHES, there are nearly 5,5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia. Women, along with children and adolescents, make up 67% of the total number of IDPs in the country.
Colombian Constitutional Court Ruling 092 recognises the disproportionate impact of the internal armed conflict on Colombian women and makes a direct link between displacement and sexual violence.
The Ruling ordered the Colombian government to adopt protection measures but this has still not been effectively implemented.
Women Human Rights Defenders
Discrimination affects women defenders as they face greater risks inherent to their gender.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, "women defenders at greater risk of suffering certain forms of violence and other violations, prejudice, exclusion and repudiation than their male counterparts”
According to the 2010 Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur, Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for certain groups of particularly vulnerable women defenders, including lawyers who fight against impunity and women who defend the rights of indigenous peoples and land rights.
Faced with the dramatic situation of the violation of women's rights, we ask the EU and its member states to:
- Implement the EU guidelines on violence against women and the guidelines on human rights defenders
- Make statements in support of organisations that defend the human rights of women
We ask the European Union to urge the Colombian government to take the following actions:
- Urgently implement Ruling 092 and Law 1257, in full consultation with the women concerned
- Comply with the recommendations of the United Nations system relating to the rights of women, including the Universal Periodic Review and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
- Invite to Colombia the UN Rapporteur on the situation of violence against women to verify the situation and actions required for change
For more information see briefing paper attached
This information also exists in French (see joint document) - Cette information existe également en français (voir document ci-dessous)