Colombia marks first national day to remember female victims of sexual violence

A woman holds a sign reading "Victim of sexual abuse" in front of a popular restaurant in Bogota, Colombia, on November 17, 2013, during a demo against the comments made by the owner of the place, where a girl denounced being raped. GUILLERMO LEGARIA/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the first “National Day for the Dignity of Women Victims of Sexual Violence caused by the Internal Armed Conflict” took place in Colombia. The Latin-American country has been plagued by conflict for the last 50 years, causing widespread and systematic sexual violence against women. One survey estimated that between 2000 and 2009, almost half a million women suffered some form of sexual violence in areas affected by the conflict — but as a vast majority of these crimes go unreported, the number is likely to be much higher. However, this national day of remembrance as well as the inclusion of survivors of sexual violence in the peace talks in Havana aimed at ending the conflict, show that public awareness of the issue is growing. Recently, the U.N. security council lauded Colombia’s  landmark law that deems sexual violence a potential crime against humanity, and improved the status of sexual violence survivors so they can receive reparations, psychosocial support and free medical care. While it’s positive that the plight of Colombian women is no longer being ignored, the peace negotiations have been going on for more than two years, and violence against women remains widespread making the ongoing participation of women’s groups in peace talks and initiatives as this national day essential to keep the pressure on the negotiators.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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