Colombia shaken by several cases of sexual violence

In Bogota, on June 26, women from the Indian Embera community demonstrated against the Colombian army after seven soldiers admitted to having sexually abused a girl from their community.

An excruciating rape in the countryside, a director of cinema in the hot seat in the city: the facts, very far from each other in the social field, revive the question of sexual violence against women in Colombia. In the heart of the Andes, in the central Risaralda department, on June 22, seven soldiers raped a 13-year-old girl from the Indian community of Embera. In Bogota, the arts community is shaken by accusations of assault and rape against Ciro Guerra, the most famous filmmaker in the country. “The army and the audiovisual are two worlds where violence is frequent and tolerated”, points out Monica Hernandez, activist of the feminist collective Rec Sisters.

Figures confirm the scale and gravity of the violence, although the number of femicides decreased during confinement: 152 women were murdered between March 25 and June 16 (compared to 205 over the same period in 2019). Between January and May, 6,479 examinations were carried out by forensic services on minors – who are girls, in the vast majority of cases – after complaints of sexual offenses.

The girl victim of gang rape lives in Santa Cecilia, a hamlet lost in the heart of the Andes. The San Mateo battalion, where the seven young people aged 18 to 22 were doing their military service, is not far away. “Monday, my sister went to look for guavas around 5 p.m., told the victim’s older brother on the radio. She did not come back. We looked for her everywhere and found her the next day in the field. “

“Machism and racism”

The Colombian National Indigenous Organization denounced the rape in the morning of June 24. The governor of the Embera Gito Dokabu reserve, Juan de Dios Queragama, asked the authorities that the culprits be brought to justice. Arrested Thursday, the youths called acknowledged the facts. They were locked up in a military garrison, pending their conviction. The indignation is lively, the reactions numerous.

In a press release, the defender of the rights recalled that “The sexual violence committed by members of the police force who have been entrusted with the arms of the state constitutes a serious violation of human rights”. The army is once again on the dock.

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For the Truth Commission, this brutal rape “Which assails the dignity of the child, of the woman and of the Embera people” raises “The question of morality within the armed forces”. Commission to shed light on crimes committed during the country’s long armed conflict, the Commission calls for “Recognize the truth of machismo and racism”. In rural Colombia, adolescent girls from Indian and Afro-descendant communities are paying a heavy price for the conflict between the military, the guerrillas and the mafia.

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