Sharp Increase in Violence Against Women in Colombia: Prosecution Fails to Report a Single Femicide Conviction in Annual Report
According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, as reported by Colombia Reports, there has been a significant increase in violence against women and girls in Colombia in the first 10 months of 2022 compared to the same period the previous year.
The agency reported receiving almost 30,000 reports of spousal abuse and almost 9,900 reports of domestic abuse involving women and girls. The agency’s medical staff also conducted over 18,700 rape examinations, with more than half being requested for girls under the age of 18. All three categories saw major increases compared to last year’s statistics on violence against women and girls.
According to the statistics released by the Medical Examiner’s Office, a woman is abused by her partner every three minutes and a girl or woman experiences domestic abuse every thirty seconds. The medical tests conducted by doctors in response to rape reports show that this form of violence is largely affecting girls under the age of 18. Over 82% of the 18,702 rape tests conducted from January to October were performed on girls aged 0 to 17.
In 2021, the Medical Examiner’s Office conducted 19,793 rape tests and received 30,436 referrals from women alleging partner violence. Additionally, the agency last year received 5,145 allegations of domestic abuse involving violence against girls and another 1,938 cases of domestic abuse involving violence against women.
The Inspector General’s Office in Colombia has reported that it has registered over 140 femicides, or murders of women due to their gender, so far this year. An additional 519 murders of women that are believed to be motivated by gender are still being investigated. A large number of these alleged femicides, over 200, occurred in the capital city of Bogota, which typically has one of the lowest homicide rates among the major cities in Colombia.
According to the United Nations women’s organization, 993 women were murdered in Colombia in 2021, and in 15% of these cases, the alleged killer was the victim’s partner. Senator Maria Jose Pizarro, the president of the Women’s Equality Commission, has called on the government to declare an emergency due to the sudden increase in violence against women and girls. This would allow the government to provide emergency funding for the prevention of violence against women and the successful prosecution of alleged abusers.
Pizarro and other lawmakers are also supporting the “Let’s Walk Without Fear” campaign, which aims to educate women about gender violence and offer support in cases of alleged abuse. The hope is that this campaign will empower women to break free from oppression and be able to walk without fear.
One major obstacle for women’s safety in Colombia is the Prosecutor General’s Office, which has a reputation for being ineffective, particularly in cases of violence against women. In its annual report, the prosecution stated that prosecutors in 198 pending femicide cases had a “96% clarification progress rate” between February 2021 and the same month in 2022. However, this statistic is misleading as cases are considered “clarified” if there is a suspect, regardless of whether there has been a conviction.
The report did not mention a single conviction in any of these femicide cases. As a result, many female victims of abuse do not report it to the authorities due to a lack of confidence in the prosecution and a fear that filing a criminal complaint could lead to further harm from their abusers.
SOURCE: Colombia Reports
(Edited by Geetanjali Verma)