colombia

Colombia

Cooperating organisation in Colombia

LIMPAL Colombia is a sectional branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Founded in 1915, WILPF International is the oldest women’s peace organization in the world.  WILPF works to achieve peace through non-violent conflict resolution and the promotion of freedom and social, economic and gender-based justice for all people.  LIMPAL Colombia works in solidarity with our founding mothers and with our sisters from all the WILPF chapters across the globe.  In Colombia we are part of a social movement that works towards the construction of a just and inclusive society through the development, defense and promotion of human rights, a society that fosters the empowerment of women and gender justice.

GBV background in Colombia

According to the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in Colombia, 125 women were killed by their husbands or partners and nearly 51,200 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2010 alone.54 Other sources report an even higher incidence of domestic violence. For example, the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science (Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses [INMLCF], or “Medicina Legal”) encountered 77,545 cases of domestic violence in Colombia in 2010, though it believes actual numbers are much higher still.55 Domestic violence occurs throughout the society, but displaced women and those living in conflict zones are at particularly great risk.

Due to a long-standing culture of impunity in Colombia and lack of faith in the justice system, crimes of sexual violence are rarely reported, particularly when armed groups are the perpetrators. A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report from 2000 found that although between 60 and 70 percent of Colombian women were reportedly victims of some form of violence, conflict-related or not, only 9 percent reported it. Survivors of sexual violence fear reporting due to a lack of confidentiality since some institutions that handle their claims have ties to armed groups, especially in conflict zones. Furthermore, rape and other forms of sexual violence are seen to violate the honor of and bring shame to the victim, her family, and her community, so a victim’s reporting of such a crime can itself be seen as a transgression (for more information http://www.unhcr.org/51b6e1ff9.pdf).

Participants

Our group of 25 consisted of 24 women and one man. We had early debated whether a difference of dynamics constitutes if it was a gender unified group or not. We concluded that in this case did not make any difference. Here it is clearly dependent on the man's background and relevance to the work (and personality), but it's hard to predict. It should nevertheless be determined in advance whether to have a group consisting of only women or a mixed group. Many of the participants worked on a daily basis with survivors of gender-based violence. Two were psychologists, one doctor, one art therapist, several were activists who worked for women's rights specifically focusing on gender based violence, and several supported women when reporting to the police or when in court cases. Of the group three were of African descent and two with Native American background, the rest were of mestiza background. This corresponds fairly even with the distribution of the population in Colombia.

Feedback from participants of the training:

How the pilot in Colombia influenced the manual

The participants of the pilot commented that the grounding exercises were very useful, and could be use both for grounding the survivor and the helper. We saw the need for more, and varied grounding exercises. We added several different grounding exercises.

We elaborated more on the issue on how to create a good closure for the Butterfly Woman. In many cases it might not be the best solution for the woman to move back to her local community. So we opened up for the idea to create a “happy” ending that would be suitable for our specific survivor through discussion in the group.

In Colombia the survivor were obliged to report in order to get certain rights, such as rehabilitation and counseling. In respond to this, we added several paragraphs on why it is important to divide the role of a helper and the role of reporting.