Jaw-dropping fact: A 2010 United Nations survey of 407 Colombian municipalities, in which there is an active presence of armed actors, found that between 2001 and 2009, 95,000 women had been raped.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women noted, “Sexual violence by armed groups (in Colombia) has become a common practice.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wrote a report, “Violence and Discrimination Against Women in the Armed Conflict in Colombia,” and though the report came out in 2005, much of what it details sadly still applies.
In short, the report says: Armed groups, not excluding state authorities, use physical, psychological, and sexual violence against women in order to gain and employ territorial control. Women are targets or victims because of their role as daughters, wives, mothers, partners, or sisters of armed actors.
Women are most often the victims of massacres, homicides, acts of torture, attacks, and home searches. Paramilitaries and guerrilla also turn women into sex slaves.
State figures confirm that four out of ten displaced families are headed by women. The most vulnerable amongst the displaced are Afro-Colombian women who are victims of racism, ridicule, and stigmatization by the receiving communities. The Afro-Colombian women are often under-educated and have a tougher time finding jobs.
Indigenous women are as equally vulnerable. They have a cultural tie to their ancestral lands, and feel their community is endangered if they are displaced from this land.
The State sees women as homogenous and does not take into consideration the special situation of Afro-Colombian and indigenous women.
In my non-fiction book-in-progress, Leonor, a former child soldier, details how she was her commander’s sex slave. See my book excerpt here.