The government is failing to take responsibility for the high levels of sexual violence committed by the national army and other actors in the armed conflict, a representative told the Colombian congress Wednesday.
The army and police are responsible for 54% of rapes and other sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict, said Representative Angela Maria Robledo, citing data from the coroner’s office. In the debate reported by El Espectador the representative also said that 89% of the alleged victims of sexual violence by the military are below the age of 17.
“We have evidence that some members of the security forces abuse adolescents in conflict zones. Sexual exploitation of adolescents by these officials are not isolated incidents, they are widespread crimes for which there should be established both responsibility and punishment” said Robledo.
It is not only the government forces committing sexual crimes. According to the Institute for Medicinal Law 19% of crimes are committed by guerrilla groups, ‘criminal gangs’ – a term that often refers to neo-paramilitary groups – are responsible for 12% and drug traffickers 9%.
Robledo gave examples of known or alleged crimes by all sides in the conflict. In October 2010, in Arauca, two girls were raped repeatedly by an officer of the Colombian army, who later killed one girl and her two brothers. In 2009 the FARC were accused of forced abortions on pregnant girls in Cauca. In August 2010, in Meta, a 14-year-old was killed by members of neo-paramilitary group ERPAC after being tortured, raped and mutilated by her attackers.
Robledo claimed “there is an undeniable political responsibility of state and government for what happens in this war,” and said that the responsibility to prevent and punish sexual violence was not being met.
In October of this year Amnesty International issued a report on sexual violence in Colombia saying that the government has failed to stop and punish sexual violence against women and should make the topic a priority at peace talks with the FARC.