News Commentary: Women targeted in sexual violence in Conflict Situations

29 09 2011

by Paula Bianca Lapuz

In Colombia, women are being sexually abused by the military, the revolutionaries and by members of a private armed group but the government is mum about it.

This is a concrete example of women being completely, totally vulnerable in armed conflicts. A CNN report states that this problem has become “widespread and systemic” that majority of cases go unreported (Castillo 2011). Women and girls were perceived as “trophies of war,” notes Amnesty International, and such crimes were sustained by a culture of impunity.

It is sad that such atrocities would still exist up to this day and age, but violence against women is probably one of the most shameful acts that anyone can commit especially in the context of a war where death and suffering are most felt by the combatants themselves.

What is even more appalling is the refusal of the government to associate these cases to the perennial war. Seemingly, the government will not lift a finger to resolve this problem. Most probably because their own men are involved and perhaps raping women is just among the consolation prizes in the battle field.

If this will continue, it is likely that Colombia will be on its way to its natural death as a society. When abusing women becomes politically acceptable, all forms of moral foundations will erode. Families will be destroyed. This phenomenon might probably be breeding a generation that’s accustomed to violence and moral degradation. In no way is this safe for women and children.

Ideally, international players must be able to put pressure on the government especially when trade agreements are at stake. But most noticeably, the United Nations has not done so much, in order to arrest the issue. What is even curious is Colombia’s election to the United Nation Security Council in 2010, for a one year period, to represent Latin America and the Caribbean from 2011 to 2012 (WELSH 2010) despite reports of such the abuses.

Human rights groups on the other hand can only do so much, especially when violence can erupt anywhere at any time. Thus, the challenge to survive is even greater. Without external help, Colombian women will probably be subjected to the same horrors time after time, generation after generation. #

Works Cited

Castillo, Mariano. CNN Latin America. September 21, 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/21/world/americas/colombia-sexual-violence/index.html?hpt=wo_c2 (accessed September 22, 2011).
WELSH, TERESA. Colombia Reports News Section. October 12, 2010. http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/12326-colombia-elected-to-un-security-council.html (accessed September 22, 2011).

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