FACTBOX: Sexual violence in Colombia's conflict

by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 12:02 GMT
Only 251 cases of sexual abuse carried out by armed groups are under official investigation

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) - Thousands of women and girls have suffered sexual abuse, including rape, at the hands of Colombia’s illegal armed groups. Army soldiers have also carried out sexual violence against women, according to a report released on Wednesday by Amnesty International.

Here are some facts about sexual abuse perpetrated by the warring factions in a conflict that has rumbled on for nearly five decades:

- In a landmark ruling in 2008, Colombia’s Constitutional Court concluded that “sexual violence against women is a habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible practice in the Colombian armed conflict”.

- In 2008, the court ordered the attorney general’s office to investigate 183 cases of sexual violence against women, of which 45 percent were attributed to paramilitary groups and nearly 20 percent to Colombian security forces.

- Only 251 cases of sexual violence carried out by armed groups are currently being investigated by Colombia’s attorney general’s office.

- In the last decade, the number of reported cases of sexual violence has nearly doubled. In 2010, Colombia’s National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science examined 20,142 suspected cases of sexual violence, compared to 12,732 in 2000. But only 109 of these cases were defined as being related to the conflict, underlining the invisibility of such crimes, says Amnesty International.

- Women and girls from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are at greater risk of sexual violence, as are women forcibly displaced by fighting.

- Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is known to recruit female child solders as sex slaves.

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