The United Nations wants Colombia to improve conditions for women, especially those who are victims of the country’s armed conflict, the organization said in its annual Women’s Day report.
According to official figures, more than one million women in Colombia are displaced by violence. In many cases women are forced to flee their homes to avoid themselves or their children being recruited by illegal armed groups like the FARC.
But according to the UN, many women in Colombia face violence which is unrelated to the ongoing conflict; “women on a daily basis are confronted by all kinds of violence, some more explicit, others more subtle: discrimination, physical agression, sexual, psychological and verbal abuse, economic dependency, exclusion, and poverty, among others,” the UN says.
A national survey revealed that 84% of women feel that Colombia is a machista country and that three-quarters of women feel discriminated against.
In its report, the UN says that the Colombian government is not doing enough to implement laws on women’s rights.
The UN hopes that the process of implementation of Act 1257 of 2008 will be promoted by the government, enshrining “rules of awareness, prevention and punishment of violent acts and discrimination against women,” to help prevent violence against women, and strengthen the investigation of crimes and punishment of those responsible.
The UN does not stand alone in its concerns. According to several NGOs, Colombian courts are unable to uphold the law when it comes to the violation of women’s rights.
The Agency for International Cooperation and Development and the Center for Human Rights cite understaffed courts, lack of proof and evidence-gathering, and lack of follow-up in court proceedings as barriers faced by victims in the Colombian court system.
The NGOs also state that victims are not guaranteed psychological reparation or representation by the courts, and that they are often unaware of the rights guaranteed to them by law. Penalties are often evaded by criminals, and there is often a long wait for justice.
The Inter-American Development Bank has donated $21.3 million to improve Colombia’s often-criticized justice system.