A United Nations committee of experts warned of high levels of sexual violence against women being perpetrated “by all actors in the armed conflict” in rural areas of Colombia.
Olinda Bareiro, an expert on the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, told EFE that the violence against women with lack of legal ramifications in rural areas, particularly against indigenous and Afro-Colombians, was a “great concern” for the committee.
“The impunity level of these crimes is very high,” said Bareiro. “Although women denounce these crimes, they do not always appear before a tribunal.”
Bareiro said the UN committee recognized the importance of Colombia’s 2011 Victims and Land Restitution Law, which aims to return millions of acres of abandoned and stolen land to internally displaced persons who fled their homes over the past two decades of conflict, and changes law to place onus of ownership on land holders rather than displaced peasants.
However, the process of land restitution has been “very difficult” for the women affected by the armed conflict said Bareiro. The UN committee is still concerned by inadequate protection for peasants threatened from vindictive appropriated land holders. Also, she claimed the law does not apply to paramilitary groups, as they have been demobilized and are not considered “actors” in Colombia’s armed conflict.
Pressured off their land, many rural Colombian farmers are living in camps, which according to Bareiro, are “extremely insecure,” facilitating acts of “sexual aggression” against the displaced women.
The UN committee urged that the peace talks taking place in Havana, Cuba, between the government and COlombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, address the crimes and sexual violence taking place against women as part of any agreement reached.