Colombia's war has been going on for so long, most people don't remember what peace was like. MADRE and Taller de Vida, our local sister organization, are there for former child soldiers caught up in this violence. And we're there for girls who've survived sexual violence in the war. Through counseling and human rights trainings, these young girls receive the support they need to heal. They are able to rebuild from the traumas they've endured, to seek justice and to demand an end to violence.
Two young girls are sexually assaulted every hour in Colombia, often as a part of the country's prolonged armed conflict. Yet this crisis is all too invisible in Colombia. People lack information on the magnitude of this violence. Programs to care for girl survivors are limited. Because the problem is not adequately recognized, young girl survivors of sexual violence do not have access to adequate support services. They can't find justice for the violations they've faced.
MADRE and Taller de Vida are providing counseling and art therapy to help survivors document and heal from their experiences of sexual violence. By talking and creating art together, we create alternatives to conflict and help young girls reintegrate into their communities. As they learn to express themselves, these girls become empowered agents of change. They learn to participate on public stages to speak out for their rights and demand justice. Together, they are creating a culture of peace.
By empowering girls survivors of sexual violence to speak out for their rights, an important spotlight will shine on this issue. Girl survivors will mobilize a national and international audience to demand action from their government, from civil society and from international institutions to end the violence and build peace.