After Marxist rebel group FARC vowed to ban the recruitment of minors, Colombia’s authorities are looking into neo-paramilitary groups that are accused of kidnapping girls to submit them as sex slaves.
In an interview with Caracol Radio, a top Ombudsman official claimed that groups that formed from the now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC are kidnapping girls under 14 to force them to have sex with members of the neo-paramilitary groups, called BaCrim by the government.
“Girls aged 10, 11 or 12 are being kidnapped and forced to have sex” with members of neo-paramilitary groups like the Urabeños, said Maria Cristina Hurtado, the chief of the Ombudsman’s Office’s Childhood and Youth unit.
According to the Ombudsman official, girls are additionally drugged with the intention of converting them into drug addict, making them dependent of the drug trafficking organization.
Some of the girls have caught sexually transmitted diseases because of unsafe sex with members of the neo-paramilitary groups.
Local organizations had already complained about the forced recruitment of girls in the city of Medellin, but according to Hurtado, the practice of kidnapping, drugging and raping girls is a national phenomenon.
Hurtado said that indigenous minorities living in remote parts of the country have been the main victim of the illegal recruitment of minors.
The FARC, long one of Colombia’s main recruiter of child soldiers, recently banned the recruitment of minors of 17 and younger, but said over the weekend that minors currently within their ranks will not be surrendered to authorities until a peace agreement with the government has been reached.
The country’s largest and oldest illegal armed group has long been accused of forcing female members to undergo abortions in the case sexual intercourse leads to the pregnancy of a female group member.
According to NGOs, the illegal armed groups aren’t they only sex offender in Colombia’s 50-year-long armed conflict; in 13% of forced prostitution cases investigated by Oxfam, security forces were the alleged culprit.
Defensoría Delegada para la Infancia, la Juventud y Adulto Mayor (Ombudsman’s Office)