In Colombia, Rape Now Being Prosecuted as Weapon of War
Columbia is taking steps to prosecute those who use rape as a weapon of war. Rape of women has been used as a tool of military for as long as history has been written and most probably before. Force the conquered women to bear your children and you have more soldiers or more slaves, as you choose.
With the encouragement of the new laws, some brave women are coming forward to give evidence of their mistreatment at the hands of the paramilitary.
In May 2007, only 12 cases of sexual violence were filed with prosecutors appointed to carry out Colombia's special Justice and Peace Law. Today that number stands at 228.
Bogotá, Colombia - Amelia had spent years counseling a woman who was raped by a right-wing warlord and suffered an unwanted pregnancy. So when the woman called her for advice after the warlord threatened to return to take away the child, Amelia rushed to go see her.
The two women stayed up late discussing how to protect the child in an isolated farmhouse in Colombia's Antioquia Province. Suddenly, three masked gunmen burst into the house and warned Amelia to "stop messing in other people's business." The men then raped both women.
Sexual violence was a constant in every massacre carried out by paramilitary forces as they expanded their control throughout the country between 1997 and 2005, says Ms. Buriticá, who has travelled throughout Colombia interviewing women and survivors of massacres about the level of sexual violence. There are hundreds of stories of women being raped, sexually tortured, and mutilated before being killed.
Once they established control, the paramilitaries would often use village women as sex slaves. In one town in Cauca Province, there are so many children of paramilitary fighters that they are known locally as the "paraquitos" or "little paramilitaries."
Rape is not a sexual crime. It is a crime perpetrated by the powerful to cow and intimidate the weaker.