A charity in the UK has received $843,200 from a donation to help protect children from sexual violence in Cali, Colombia, according to a non-departmental public body responsible for distributing money for charities.
The donation came from the UK’s Big Lottery Fund’s International Community program and was granted to another UK-based organization, Children of the Andes, in an effort to end sexual violence against children in Colombia’s half-century armed conflict.
“Sexual violence against children is very prevalent in Colombia (…) This violence can be linked to attitudes towards children’s and women’s rights and issues of sexuality, consent, and culpability,” said Duncan Millar, Children of the Andes Executive Director in a press release from Big Lottery Fund.
“It is made worse by a lack of information and understanding of children’s sexual and reproductive health and rights,” added Millar.
With the recent donation, Children of the Andes intends to work with local experts to bring “information and training related to reproductive rights and sexual health,” according to the press release.
Fifty young people will be trained as youth leaders who will provide peer training. In addition, a child-friendly healthcare service will open “to provide medical care and psychological support” with a mobile version of the service going straight to vulnerable communities.
In 2011, 19,433 children were reported being victims of sexual violence in Colombia; among which 7,304 were under 14 years old, according to a report by Plan International, a humanitarian organization cited by the Big Lottery Fund.
Last month, it was reported that an average of 27 children were sexually assaulted per day during the 2008-2012 period. During that time, there were 48,915 underage victims of rape, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
Most of these cases were recorded in the states of Antioquia, Valle de Cauca, Nariño, Santander and Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, which accounted for 56% of all cases, reported Bucaramanga’s Vanguardia newspaper.
The nature of the crimes in the armed conflict have been difficult to categorize and report as the abuse has become normalized over the years to the point where both perpetrator and victim have come to accept the crimes as the status quo, with very few victims coming forward.
Between January and September of 2013, over 11,000 cases of sexual violence against children were reported by Colombia’s coroner’s office. Of those, over 3,000 cases were perpetrated against children between the ages of 5 and 9 while more than 5,000 were victims between the ages of 10 and 14.