Colombia’s court system has been unable to rule in four out of five cases involving the sexual abuse of minors, according to local media.
Semana magazine reported Thursday various staggering figures based on underage sexual abuse cases; from the rates of abusers that go unpunished, to the high amounts of abusers who themselves are underage.
The numbers were released in a report conducted by the country’s judicial branch.
Semana reported 2013 figures that show that 38% of cases dealt with by the prosecution was unable to jump the first hurdle of court proceedings because either the victim or abuser were unable to be identified, in 23% and 15% of cases respectively.
A total of 7,780 cases, which amounted to 81% of cases registered, never even made it past the inquiry phase in that year. Reasons for this reported by Semana cover both sides; at times the court were dealing with false allegations or cases that do not fall under the “sexual abuse” category, but in other circumstances it was the court’s own incapacity that meant cases could not proceed.
According to the report, a total of 17,484 claims of sexual abuse against minors were registered in 2013, but only 9,611 cases went to court and only 1,009 abusers were convicted.
In an attempt to try and decipher why the court had struggled to adequately deal with these cases, the Judicial Branch took a sample of 325 cases in 2013 to identify the characteristics of the victims and their perpetrators. Out of this sample group, 97 of the offenders were adolescents.
In a smaller sample of 179 cases, 57% of the victims were under the age of 14. In terms of gender figures, all of the suspects were men and 79% of the victims were female.
A staggering 74% of the abusers in the 179 were aged between 14-18, honing the majority of sexual abuse acts in on an alarmingly low age group.
In terms of relationship between abuser and abused, ties were often found to be close between the two. 21% of the children were abused by their neighbours, 13% by their stepfathers, 9% by an uncle, 8% by a cousin, 7% by a brother and 4% by a parent. This amounts to a total of 62% of reported cases.
According to Semana weekly, the main concerns highlighted by this report are the high levels of cases and the inability faced by the court to deal with them adequately. The high level of underage abusers is also a matter of concern, and what they are exposed to trigger such behaviour.