Oxfam Briefing Paper: Sexual Violence in Colombia: instrument of war

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Oxfam International
South America

Sexual violence has been employed as a weapon of war by all of the armed groups involved in the half-century-long Colombian conflict. State military forces, paramilitaries and guerrilla groups have used sexual violence with the goal of terrorizing communities, using women as instruments to achieve their military objectives. But this type of violence also is used as a form or torture and punishment, to exert control over the population, to enforce strict rules of conduct, as a means of revenge and intimidation, or as a weapon to wound and terrorize the enemy. The use of sexual violence is far from sporadic. It has become a generalized and systematic practice; a normal aspect of the armed conflict. In spite of this situation, the impunity that envelops these types of crimes has converted Colombian women into the hidden victims of this conflict. The European Union, and particularly the United Kingdom, should pressure the Colombian government to fulfil its responsibility of protecting the civilian population by putting an end to this tragic situation and punishing those responsible.

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SV in Colombia, Oxfam (2009).