Colombia Issues Groundbreaking Decision on Justice
By MADRE | MADRE
This past July, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) published a groundbreaking decision charging former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) members with crimes against humanity of gender persecution—instances when someone is targeted and faced with violence based on their gender—and in intersection with racial and ethnic persecution. This initial decision is unprecedented.
Your support made it possible for MADRE to partner with CUNY School of Law’s Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic to provide legal analysis to JEP judicial actors regarding crimes of persecution based on gender and based on gender in intersection with race/ethnicity. The decision found sufficient grounds to bring the FARC-EP to justice and recognize the structural and historical discrimination Indigenous, Afro-Colombian Peoples, women and girls, and LGBTQIA+ people of all genders faced. The JEP charged gender persecution connected to an array of crimes, including torture, enslavement, killing, sexual violence, and other crimes against Afro-descendant and Indigenous women and girls. The JEP also charged prosecution for acts of violence against LGBTQIA+ for the first time in history, among which 16 Afro-Colombian were identified.
Sexual violence was deemed as a crime against humanity and a war crime, making clear that sexual violence can be both an underlying act of gender persecution while being charged as a crime in itself. The JEP also found that forced displacement, and other crimes against women and girls constituted gender persecution.
With a better understanding of the forms of gender persecution and the discrimination that underlies these crimes, we can strengthen work to support survivors and end cycles of gender-based violence in communities across the globe. Thank you for your generous support as we work with women and girls’ human rights defenders to make lasting change in Colombia.
With deep appreciation for your support, MADRE continues our partnership in Colombia with Taller de Vida (TdV), as they have expanded their reach to respond to the needs of Indigenous and Afro-communities in Colombia as a result of increased conflict in their territories.
In 2018, TdV created the Artemisa project which has contributed to the psychosocial recovery and reintegration of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian girls and women and their communities in the region of Risaralda. With this project, Taller de Vida is not only providing psychological support to Indigenous and Afro communities, but it’s also creating a space through training and community gatherings for Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities affected by the armed conflict to work together and build dialogue and collective healing. This project also includes advocating for the rights of women and girls, ensuring they are included in the peace process and in community dialogues.
In the words of one of the young Afro-Colombian activists: "Artemisa leaves a very valuable impact on the community and it is that the girls who were at that time lacking opportunities, lacking a space to rehearse, lacking trainers who could also help us through art and help them to get out of those repressed situations they had, were able to count on all this support and even more, when they were part of Artemisa."
Another member, one of the educators who is part of the training provided by TdV, shared that "TdV pedagogy is thoughtful of the needs of the community & planned out for each process, that's why is so important for more girls and boys to have the opportunity to be part of this process, this allows all of us to resist the conflict and re-build our history.”
TdV’s creative response strategy with activists allows for life-changing transformation that challenges silence, and fosters dialogue on lived experiences, and solutions for lasting change. Thank you for your generosity and solidarity to help uplift important work like the Artemisa project.
Taller de Vida (TdV) is a community-based organization run by a team of psychologists, educational social workers, and volunteers who support the healing, social rehabilitation, and power building of former child soldiers and young women and girl survivors of sexual and gender-based violence within the context of the Colombian armed conflict. Through the power of art therapy, creative workshops, human rights education, and practical skills training, TdV is helping youth and communities recover from violence and providing them the tools to become actors of peace and contribute to the building of non-violent social conditions in Colombia.
MADRE began supporting TdV in 2002 to support the demobilization and reintegration process of child soldiers recruited by armed actors in the conflict. As the peace process implementation moves forward, TdV works to advance Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples’ meaningful participation at the local and national level to ensure that collective rights, gender and racial justice, and other pertinent guarantees are upheld.
With your support, MADRE and TdV are working to build the recognition of persecution based on gender in the context of the decades-long conflict—including gender and racial/ethnic persecution against Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples—with the aim of ensuring meaningful access and inclusion in the appropriate reparations in the transitional justice process.
As we have seen with partners around the world, when women’s community based-solutions are centered in the transitional justice process, communities are able to come together to collectively heal and bring about long-term solutions for social change and peacebuilding. As a result, women and girls are breaking the silence in their communities around conflict-related and gender-based violence to build solidarity, empathy, and healing practices that break cycles of violence.
Thank you for showing your solidarity and support to women and girls in Colombia as they advance their rights and create restorative spaces for healing.
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