Colombian NGOs highlight the ongoing victimization of female leaders of displaced groups, and criticize the inadequate government response to the situation, U.S.-based Latino news channel Univision reported Thursday.
The National Association for Displaced Afro-Colombians (Afrodes) and the Center for Investigations and Popular Education (CINEP) presented a report on the situation of displaced women in Colombia on Thursday.
The report, based on information gathered in 10 municipalities, stated that since October 2009 at least four female leaders from forced displacement organizations have been assassinated and another 93 have been threatened by illegal armed groups. The NGOs also said that the Colombian state lacks a policy to protect women in situations of displacement.
“The right that women have, in a situation of displacement, to have adequate access to land is something that existing policy has not managed to resolve,” said the report.
“The state doesn’t have a differential and gendered focus. They don’t know how to protect women,” added Joanna Saenz, a member of Afrodes. Other members stated that “a systematic and effective effort” to protect women is “lacking” on the part of the state.
Saenz said that the threats and violence against female leaders come primarily from “Aguilas Negras” or “Los Rastrojos,” armed groups made up of former paramilitaries, narco-traffickers and criminals.
Caroline Tejada, assistant director of CINEP, said that the government should be working to address “structural” problems that cause displacement, rather than providing purely monetary and needs-based assistance to displaced populations.
In mid-March, the Colombian Ministry of Defense announced plans to create a government security body to protect those involved in the land restitution process for victims of forced displacement.
The Colombian NGO, Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), released a report in the same week stating that there is a neo-paramilitary or “BACRIM” presence in 1/3 of the country, indicating that these emerging criminal gangs are the biggest threat to security.
Numerous national and international NGOs have continued to express concern over the human rights situation in Colombia, and the issue of violence against women has been a recurring topic.