A Symbolic Court Against Sexual Violence in the Context of the Colombian Armed Conflict was held at the National University in Bogota on Monday.
The event was hosted by Corporacion Humanas Colombia, an NGO focused on women’s rights in Colombia. A variety of other NGOs, students, and interested individuals came to the event, with almost 400 attendees in total.
The purpose of this Symbolic Tribunal was to raise awareness about sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict, and especially about what the State needs to do to stop the impunity surrounding these conflict-related sex crimes.
During the Tribunal seven cases of sexual violence by the FARC, guerrilla, paramilitaries, and police were presented, some by the victims themselves, one by a mother whose daughters were victims, and another by members of organizations responsible for representing the victims.
All of the women whose cases were presented were victims of rape, and some of sexual slavery, torture, and forced confinement. The victims came from different regions of Colombia and were of a range of ages. All of the cases presented produced an emotional response from both the presenters and from the audience.
The event was intended as a symbolic court of law to illustrate what needs to happen in order to obtain the justice that has been denied to these women in terms of their legal rights. Here’s how it works:
The victims, or those presenting on their behalf, present their cases, and there are five judges who hear their cases. There are also presentations by certain experts on international obligations of the State concerning sexual violence, forensic documentation of sexual crimes against women who were later killed, and psychosocial impacts derived from sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict.
The judges then announce their final declaration and give their decision to the authorities of the State. Then there is the intervention of representatives of the States who give brief responses on what they can do. The Tribunal ends with a concluding declaration from Corporación Humanas, the hosting organization.
This was an important event that strived to make visible the impacts of sexual violence in the context of the Colombian armed conflict. Hopefully by increasing visibility and awareness, the cases of these women, and the many others who have suffered because of the conflict, can be brought to trial and justice can be attained.