COLOMBIA: Colombia's New Domestic Violence Law

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Colombia News
South America
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

A law obliging Colombian authorities to investigate reports of domestic violence and alimony evasion will be presented in the Senate, local media reported Tuesday.

Under the new law, once a party has filed a domestic violence report he or she will not be able to withdraw it or reconcile the case outside of the law.

Authorities no longer need a complaint filed on behalf of the victim before they can act on a reported case of abuse, as was stated in the previous law. The legislation also obliges authorities to investigate the case once they have knowledge of a specific instance of domestic abuse or alimony evasion.

Christina Plazas, high presidential adviser for the equality of women, said "we have stopped seeing these crimes as minor, because they represent the biggest problem of violence in this country." Plazas added that the bill makes no distinction in gender, as both have the same responsibilities.

The bill was approved by Colombia's House of Representatives and will then go to the Senate to be approved by the president.

A 2010 report by Colombia's National Legal Medicine Institute found that a woman was killed by her partner every four days in the country. According to a UN report the same year, half of Colombian men admitted to abusing their wives or girlfriends.

In 2008 legislation was signed dealing with the prevention and punishment of violence and discrimination against women. Measures included making sure men who posed a danger to their partners were removed from their homes, teaching children about domestic violence, obliging medical professionals to report suspected cases, and sanctions for workplace discrimination against women.

Last January the Colombian government laid out procedures for public officials and medical professionals to implement properly comply with the legislation by requiring that cases of suspected domestic violence and that specialized procedures be put in place for comprehensive treatment of victims.