Women’s Rights and Anti-Militarism in Colombia

November 25, 2013 saw the beginning of 16 days of Public Actions in Medellin. The International Day of No Violence against women started the actions specifically to make the public more aware and to gather support against violence towards women. Local human rights organizations along with student groups, women’s groups, anti – war groups and other local groups organized the campaign which they named, “For the right to exist, think and make decisions: 16 days of public action for women, dignity and peace.” This ran in conjunction with the iniative that was started by the United Nations and the campaign ran until 10 December which marks International Human Rights Day.

The student group TEJUNTAS read a statement summing up their feelings as to why they needed the support. It was a heartfelt plea for their cause explaining how they had come together to fight a system that oppresses women and is full of death. With support they believe they can make the dream of justice and liberty in Columbia a reality.

The campaign started with a march through central Medellin which gathered much support. They were street theatre displays and musical presentations. The street theatre communicated the bleak reality for Columbian women effectively with the message coming across that a united movement is required to fight the actual sources of violence aimed at women. The poignant performance given by the Network of Feminists and Anti- Militarists, the aggressors against women were depicted as a priest, judge and policeman. A representative from the Anti- Imperialists Brigade was quick to confirm that there is definite repeated violence towards women by the state in war and acts in civil society.

During the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Columbia in April violence against the Columbian women was a topic of major discussion. This resulted in the Columbian state agreeing that they needed to prioritize protection of women’s rights, do more to prevent sexual violence and continue to promote women’s rights. However it has been confirmed that during the first part of this year there were no less than 15,650 cases of domestic violence, 5,550 cases of sexual abuse and over 500 female victims that have died. The crimes actively committed against women is alarming and of much concern to those working for women’s rights. It is appalling to think that many of the cases, particularly those of domestic violence go uninvestigated by the state or law even though the perpetrators are known. It appears that there is still little justice for women.

Columbia is a country at war and one where armed parties in conflict still use sexual violence solely for their war and terror tactics. The Anti- Imperialist Brigades report that there is a woman abused every six hours within the realms of armed conflict. In non conflict zones the National Institute of Legal medicine and Forensic Sciences using data collected in 2012 state in their report that a Columbian woman is being abused by her partner every ten minutes, and one woman dies every three days at the hands of her partner. This grim reality is highlighted by the Feminist and Anti-Militarist Network Red in their campaign “Love kills women.” They used the rhyme, “Who killed them, who raped them? These are state crimes and nobody saw anything” during a recent march and it is undeniably true.

It is vital to bring an end to the idea of crimes of passion that seems to condone men killing their partners because of their sick connotation of love. The facts must be investigated and those guilty brought to task for their actions.

The Columbian capital of Bogota saw a women raped in a popular upper class establishment which led to actual protests demanding an investigation from the exclusive clientele, surely this should be the way forward in all cases and not simply a case being investigated because enough noise has been made.

The two weeks in Medellin hosted many events in the hope to heighten awareness in all districts. They also highlighted the concerns held over the prison conditions for women. It is imperative though now that the events have come to a close for another year that iniatives are put into place that work not only in the interests of women but for the women.

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