PBI-Canada asks that Canada’s feminist foreign policy be implemented as sexual violence against women at protests in Colombia increases

Published by Brent Patterson on

On May 13, 17-year-old Allison Meléndez committed suicide after suffering sexual violence by members of the Colombian police.

Peace Brigades International is one of the 306 organizations that asked the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 21 to take further action against “flagrant human rights violations” in Colombia.

That statement notes: “Throughout the eight weeks of mass protests that have spread to different cities throughout the country, we’ve seen … sexual violence … against those exercising their right to protest… These violations are taking place in spite of a Supreme Court ruling ordering the security forces to refrain from acting violently…”

The full statement and list of signatories can be read here.

Sexual violence against women increasing

On May 25, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR-CIDH) also expressed its alarm about the “87 acts of sexual violence allegedly committed by law enforcement agents against women demonstrators…”

Now, the BBC reports: “There have been at least 113 cases of gender-based violence, according to a report by the Office of the Ombudsman, an official government agency tasked with overseeing the protection of citizens’ human and civil rights.”

That article adds: “[The NGO Temblores] says it has received reports from 28 protesters who allege they were sexually abused by members of the security forces. They include allegations of having been forced to strip naked, being groped and being raped.”

Canada’s response so far

Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders states: “In militarized contexts and countries in conflict, women HRDs may face additional threats of sexual and gender-based violence…”

Voices at Risk further notes: “Missions can play a significant role to protect and support the work of women HRDs, for example through: Monitoring, documenting and reporting human rights violations, the gendered consequences of such violations, and state and non-state perpetrators who pose specific threats…”

The tweet from the Canadian Embassy in Colombia on May 4 and the statement from Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 9 do not reference the reports of sexual violence being committed by state security forces.

Peace Brigades International-Canada calls on the Government of Canada to take further action to ensure that the sexual and gender-based violence being committed by Colombian security forces against women defenders is stopped.

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