In the last 6 years, until 2019, there were at least 1,339 attacks against women leaders and human rights defenders. Among these, there were 84 cases of homicide, although there is an underreporting, and attacks have increased in recent years, especially during the implementation of the peace agreement.
The data is part of the most recent X-ray on violence against women leaders in the country, presentsntated in the report ‘Defenders, voices of life and resistance’, prepared by the program Somos Defensores, Sisma Mujer, Limpal and the National Summit of Women and Peace.
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The report highlights that women leaders are exposed to specific and differentiated violence because they are women in a society in which the male voice has predominated and where sexist practices and discriminations are far from disappearing.
Thus, explained Lourdes Castro, director of the Somos Defensores program, there is a kind of intersection of risks for women who exercise leadership in a country in which 215 social leaders have been assassinated this year, according to Indepaz.
Diana Salcedo, director of the International League of Women for Peace and Freedom (Limpal), indicated that women leaders are exposed to situations such as sexual violence or threats to their family environment because many also have the role of mother , threats to their community environment, among others. “The risks in the family environment are focused, for example, on forced recruitment and intimidation of being forced to move. And in the community, threats against them or the process they are leading, ”she said.
The risks in the family environment are focused, for example, in forced recruitment and intimidation of being forced to move
She added that the risks are different when it comes to indigenous and Afro women, who are already exposed to other discrimination due to their ethnic identity. And there are also other exacerbated risks for leaders with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities., in which cases they are related to hate crimes and gender stereotypes.
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According to the figures from the Information System on Attacks against Human Rights Defenders (SIADDHH), which includes the report, between 2013 and 2019, the type of leadership with the most aggressions was that of indigenous women, with 118 cases, followed by the community leaders, with 75; peasant women and victims, with 68 each; Afro-Colombian women, with 66; the communal ones, which registered 63 cases; the union, with 24; educational and environmental, each with 19 records; the female leaders, with 23 attacks, and the LGBTI leaders, with 19.
In addition, the report notes that violence against women defenders has worsened even above attacks against men, since between 2013 and 2019,
Assaults against women increased by 165 percent, while those of men, 116 percent.
As alleged perpetrators is identified in 67 percent (902 cases) to paramilitary groups; of 25 percent (331) the alleged perpetrator is unknown. And of the rest, state institutions are identified as responsible in 4 percent (56 cases), FARC dissidents in 3 percent (34 cases) and the Eln in 1 percent (13 cases).
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The places where the highest number of cases have occurred were Bogotá with 483 (36 percent), Cauca with 127 cases (10 percent), Valle del Cauca with 119 (9 percent), Atlántico with 62 (5 percent), Antioquia with 61 (5 percent) and Santander with 50 cases (4 percent).
Lack of guarantees
The report highlights that, although there are bodies in charge of promoting, protecting and defending human rights, such as the Human Rights Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior and the Presidential Council for Human Rights, “these efforts have not resulted in the generation of favorable environments that guarantee women their right to defend human rights ”.
In this regard, Castro said that the women’s organizations in the report also highlighted the creation of the Comprehensive Program of Guarantees for Women Leaders and Human Rights Defenders of the Ministry of the Interior. However, the challenge of putting it into practice persists, and it is there that several institutional blockages are identified so that the 28 state entities that are part of the program can start their work.
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Likewise, both she and Salcedo highlighted the need for a gender perspective in the risk analyzes carried out by the National Protection Unit to assign protection schemes. In addition, they stressed the need for the peace agreement to be put into practice to protect social leaders.
Regarding judicial investigations, the report highlights that the majority of cases of murders of women human rights defenders are under investigation. The cases in imputation, trial or execution of sentences are less than 10 percent, therefore, “the homicides of women human rights defenders are at 91 percent impunity.”
MARÍA ISABEL ORTIZ F.