COLOMBIA: Ban Saves Lives in Medellín; New Law on Guns and Domestic Violence

Friday, January 23, 2009
South America
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Human Rights
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

A significant new law specifically linking violence against women with firearms possession was passed by the Colombian Congress in December 2008.

Law No. 1257 decrees that perpetrators of violence against women will be suspended from possessing or carrying firearms – though the duration of the suspension is not mentioned. The law is a victory for a coalition of NGOs, government and UN agencies working for women's rights, including Colectivo Dignidad Humana, a member of the IANSA Women's Network.

Luz Salazar of the Colectivo welcomed the law, but said further provisions were necessary to keep women safe from gun violence. “Men who already have a record of violence against women should be stopped from owning guns, and the length of the suspension must be clarified if the law is to be genuinely effective,” she said. The law also amends the Criminal Code of Colombia to increase the sentence for an assault on a woman if it is committed specifically because of her gender.