The Colombian government on Thursday announced strong new measures to support women who have been the victims of violence.
The two new decrees, tax breaks for companies that employ victims and increased financial support for battered women in the form of housing, transportation and food, build upon two laws created in 2008 and 2011.
“To the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, prevention of violence against women is a priority and we have been demonstrating this over the years and this government has achieved significant advances,” said Alejandro Gaviria, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Gender Equality.
The first decree stated that businesses which hire women who have suffered from any manner of domestic or sexual violence, sexual harassment or personal injury, will receive a tax deduction that is equivalent to 200% of the value of the individual wage and social benefit of that employee. The tax deduction can be claimed by businesses for each of the first three years that they employ the former victim. However, employers who hire women on a temporary or part-time basis will not be able to apply for the tax break.
The second decree focuses on providing additional support such as transportation and accommodation for women whose lives are in danger. It establishes the conditions, criteria and procedures by which authorities will grant such assistance. Care may last for the duration of six months, at which point the victim’s circumstances will be reviewed. If circumstanes call for it, assistance may be granted for an additional six months.
The labor ministry claims that the move will help ensure women occupy a more fair and equitable position in the labor market, not only from a perspective of gender equality, but also in a broader context it will contribute to Colombia’s general social and economic development.
The government will allocate funds and resources to departments and districts and communicate guidelines for implementation, monitoring and control. If in the event the victim’s attacker has the ability to pay, he or she must cover the costs of the care measures.
According to the national coroner’s office, in 2011 there was a total of 51,092 cases of spousal abuse against women and another 19,000 cases of sexual violence.