Two Colombian paramilitary bosses are being investigated for the rape of 17 aspiring beauty queens in the Sucre department in 2003. None of the young ladies have yet dared to file charges, out of fear for their lives, Colombian magazine Cambio reports.
The beauty contest was organized by a fake firm, backed by paramilitary boss Marco “El Oso” Tulio Pérez. After the contest all 17 contestants were taken to a paramilitary base, where they were raped by Tulio Pérez, Rodrigo “Cadena” Mercado and other paramilitaries that were around, say some of the girls who, with the help of psychologists and under government protection, spoke out, after having kept their mouth shut for five years.
Police investigators have been able to verify the facts after people from the village reported the mass rape and some of the girls came forward telling their story. None of the girls so far have dared to officially report the rape to the authorities.
So far only 91 Colombian women have approached the Justice and Peace Unit to say they are victims of rape and sexual abuse. Others have told their stories to human rights NGOs.
The majority of abused women keep silent out of fear, shame, continuous threats by their aggressors or because prejudiced family members accuse the women of provocation.