The Colombian Conflict, which began in 1964, was a complex and protracted armed struggle involving the Colombian government, right-wing paramilitary organisations, crime syndicates, and left-wing guerrilla groups. The government aimed to establish order and stability, while guerrillas claimed to fight for the rights of the poor, and paramilitaries asserted they were combating perceived threats from the guerrillas.
The Colombian Conflict took a devastating toll on the country. By 2013, approximately 220,000 people had died in conflict-related violence or due to landmines, with more than 80% of the casualties being civilians. Colombia had the world’s second-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with over five million civilians forced from their homes.
Sexual violence was used by non-state armed groups as well as the Colombian military to control and intimidate civilians, with women leaders and human rights defenders particularly targeted. The brutality of sexual violence by guerrilla and paramilitary fighters left many survivors with severe mental health problems.
In 2012, the Colombian government and the guerrilla group FARC-EP initiated peace talks in Havana, Cuba, with a notable representation of women in the negotiations. A gender subcommittee was established at the peace talks in 2014 to ensure a gender perspective and the inclusion of women’s rights in the final peace agreement.
In 2016, a peace agreement with a notable emphasis on gender was finally signed, addressing transitional justice, reparations, victims’ rights, and non-repetition. The government has implemented a rights-based reparations and assistance process for survivors, acknowledging responsibility and providing protection. Other achievements include a law on access to justice, offering victims reparations, medical care, and psychosocial support. Additionally, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia has initiated a macro case dedicated to addressing conflict-related sexual violence, a crucial step for victims and survivors during the Colombian armed conflict. Furthermore, a National Day for the Dignity of Women Victims of Sexual Violence resulting from the internal armed conflict has been established. These measures represent significant steps towards supporting survivors and promoting reconciliation in Colombia, although there is still much work to be done.
The Mukwege Foundation is linked to two national survivor networks in Colombia.
Red de Mujeres Victimas y Profesionales Network of Women Victims and Professionals) is led by women who are victims of sexual violence and who, with the support of professionals, work for the empowerment of victims of this crime and the rights of victims of sexual violence during the armed conflict in Colombia. The Red de Mujeres Víctimas y Profesionales was created with the purpose of strengthening the capacities of women who are victims of sexual violence to seek access to justice, to qualify their advocacy work, as well as to accompany and monitor public policies and justice response for all the victims of this crime. The Network has two national coordinators, and 13 regional coordinators, who lead the prevention, justice, advocacy, and social mobilization strategies, which are the general strategies through which the Network develops its activities.
ALIATE Mujeres is a network of women from Caquetá, Cauca, Huila, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo and Valle del Cauca united to work to demand the rights of rural women and influence their communities and defend the environment.
Red de Mujeres Victimas y Profesionales