Thursday, December 9, 2010

Women and Colombia's Armed Conflict

Every year about this time a women's organization posts signs like these around Bogotá - a reminder that Colombia's armed conflict continues, and that it disproportionately impacts women and girls. Girls and women comprise a disproportionate number of the millions of displaced Colombians, and rape has been used as a weapon by various armed groups.
From reading and talks with women who have been victims and members of armed groups, I've heard many horror stories: rape, slavery, forced abortions and displacement by armed groups, both legal and illegal ones. Young girls sometimes fall in love with a guerrilla or paramilitary leader and join an illegal armed group, and are then trapped for life. I met one woman who described how her husband and sons were murdered and kidnapped by guerrillas, and she forced off of their land with the rest of her family. There are many similar stories.

According to a recent El Tiempo story, between 2001 and 2009, 94,500 women suffered sexual abuse related to Colombia's armed conflict, and 26,300 became pregnant as a result.
"We women have been trampled in our territories and everywhere else by legal and illegal armed groups, which kidnap, kill, rape and humiliate us...."

"There is no justification.
Nothing justifies violence against women."

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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