House Representative Angela Robledo says a new bill proposing improved access to the justice system for conflict victims could end “systematic and generalized” violence against women in Colombia.
With the new bill to be presented in the Senate, Robledo and Cepeda aim to eliminate legal impediments blocking women’s access to justice, and also legally define what constitutes sexual violence.
“Our project refers to all those who are victimized, [regardless of whether the perpetrators [are] irregular armed groups, guerrillas, paramilitaries, BACRIM [criminal groups] or state agents. This project is in many ways related to the Law of Victims and Land Restitution, which incorporates state agents in the categorization of victims. However, our proposal is mainly concerned with overcoming the current legal obstacles obstructing access to justice, that is, a definition of sexual violence that does not only include violent [rape], but other forms used such as forced sterilization, forced pregnancy, abortion and enslavement.”
Robledo said the proposal did not focus on violent acts against women committed by common criminals and drug traffickers, but stated that the law could serve as a benchmark even in a situation of post-conflict.
“Although the project has its content and focus on the armed conflict, we think it will serve in general to define what sexual violence means,” said Robledo.
The house representative called on the national government to better coordinate efforts against sexual violence with local governments, the armed forces and the justice system.
“We ask for measures of prevention and that the armed forces effectively carry out the directive given in 2008 which underlines zero tolerance regarding sexual violence, which in our view has not been followed.”
According to Colombia’s prosecutor general, only 3.5% of reported acts of sexual violence ended in sentences during the month of May in 2011.
- Interview with Angela Robledo, House representative.
- Proyecto de Ley: Justicia para las víctimas de violencia sexual en el conflicto armado (Sexual violence bill)