COLOMBIA: Rights Out of Reach: Obstacles to Health, Justice, and Protection for Displaced Victims of Gender-Based Violence in Colombia

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Human Rights Watch
South America

Colombia's laws on violence against women are not adequately protecting victims displaced by the armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Approximately two million internally displaced women and girls face high rates of rape and domestic violence. Daunting obstacles impede displaced victims' access to healthcare, justice, and protection services.

The 101-page report, “Rights Out of Reach: Obstacles to Health, Justice, and Protection for Displaced Victims of Gender-Based Violence in Colombia,”documents how recent improvements in Colombia's laws, policies, and programs on rape and domestic violence have not translated into more effective justice, healthcare, and protection for displaced women and girls. More than half of the country's roughly four million displaced are female.

“For many displaced women and girls, the hardships of displacement are compounded by the trauma of rape and domestic violence,” said Amanda Klasing, women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “And despite good laws and policies that have been enacted in recent years, they still face enormous difficulty in getting the medical attention they're entitled to. And, they rarely see their abusers brought to justice.”

Colombia has high reported rates of rape and domestic violence generally, and national surveys have found even higher rates among the displaced. A 2011 government sponsored survey found that almost 48 percent of displaced women reported suffering domestic violence, and more than 9 percent reported being raped by someone other than their partner. This compares to 37 percent of women in the general population who reported intimate partner violence, and 6 percent who reported rape by someone other than their partner, in a 2010 national survey. Official data on violence against women is limited, however, especially on sexual violence related to the conflict and displacement. Human Rights Watch calls on the government to collect this data, to better adapt its laws and policies to protect displaced women and girls.

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