The US Army is investigating alleged sex crimes by soldiers and defense contractors, but they only make up a tiny percentage of Colombia’s overall sexual statistics within the conflict. The majority of perpetrators are paramilitaries, guerrillas or members of the national army.
There were 32,609 counts of sexual abuse between 2001 and 2009 in the 407 of 1100 Colombian municipalities assessed in an Oxfam study. This equates to 9 sexual abuses a day.
Almost 13,000 of the rapes were undertaken by illegal actors (guerrillas, paramilitaries, and neo-paramilitaries that surged from the paramilitaries), while almost 2,000 were by the public forces (army, police, intelligence and marine forces).
However, further evidence shows that while illegal actors commit the most rapes, Colombia’s public forces sexually abuse women in ways other than rape almost as much as them.
While the illegal groups committed 4.64% of all other types of sexual abuse (excluding rape), Colombia’s public forces were only slightly behind at 4.04%.
Some 20% of forced prostitution was due to illegal actors, while 13% was the public forces.
Paramilitaries win first prize
In 2008, Colombia’s Constitutional Court recognized a distinct link between sexual violence and the displacement occurring due to the armed conflict.
They commissioned the Prosecutor General to investigate a particular set of 143 sexual abuse cases with the aim to uncover the main perpetrators.
The Prosecution found 45.8% of those cases to be paramilitary offenders, with 19.4% committed by public forces and 8.5% by the guerrillas.
Though the proportions are revealing, the quantity of unreported cases leaves sexual abuse statistics as wildly lower than in reality.
Government statistics only listed 143 registered cases of sexual violence from paramilitary and neo-paramilitary members between 2005 and 2013, with 97 where FARC guerrillas were responsible. The lack of reporting grants offenders with protection from the law.
On 18% of sexually abused women report the crime committed against them, according to an Oxfam study, despite the vast number of sexual offenses throughout Colombia’s half-century-long conflict.
Some 74% of women asked said the presence of armed conflict actors in the locality is what prevents them from reporting it.
Amnesty International’s sexual crime statistics listed several cases of police officials committing rape 100 meters or less from their workplace, signalling a clear lack of fear of being caught.
Datos oficiales sobre la violencia en Colombia (Medicina Legal)