We seek prayers for the thousands of women who are living in quarantine with violent abusers. The Colombian government decreed a preventive and obligatory isolation from the 24th of March until the 13th of April for all Colombians as a way to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. This quarantine raises the risk women who live with abusive partners face. The U.N. issued a warning that violence against women will be on the rise and that those with the authority to do so must take special measures to address this issue.
On 22 March the Territorial Agendas for Women, Peace, and Community, a coalition of organizations that CPT Colombia belongs to, put out this statement:
Request for preventive, effective and real attention to cases involving gender-based and domestic violence in the current COVID-19 context in the district of Barrancabermeja
The women's organizations that are part of the regional network known as the Territorial Agendas for Women, Peace and Community have respected and embraced the prevention and protective measures put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this situation is no less worrisome than the reality of gender-based violence (GBV) where the lives and the physical and emotional wellbeing of women continue to be at risk; this situation requires that the appropriate authorities take measures in favor of women.
In a recent speech, the UN Women’s Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean expressed her concern regarding "the increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence" and recommended investing more in prevention and early warning systems through grassroots women's organizations who are supported by police investigations. This is a public health issue that can lead to a greater number of feminicides and violence against women and girls, as was made evident on the first day of the drill on preventive social distancing when a young six-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and a woman attacked by her ex-partner.
We acknowledge that there could be more cases that we are not aware of. Therefore, we request that the district government, the national police, and other related authorities:
- Guarantee the adoption of real preventive measures and the implementation of effective means of care and protection—based on empathy, institutional collaboration, swiftness, and the non-revictimization of women.
- Protect and track cases that have already been identified, those under police protection or those where protective measures have been requested.
- We demand follow-up and corresponding sanction of those officials who are responsible for activating safety measures and who then omit or exceed in the fulfillment of their functions.
- We urge the Regional Ombudsman and the Office of the Colombian Attorney General to carry out the respective monitoring required within the framework of their institutional functions.
Through our work as the Territorial Agendas for Women, Peace, and Community, we commit ourselves to carry out the necessary complaints and institute Early Alerts, before the appropriate authorities and monitor the implementation of Law 1257 of 2008, which prevents and sanctions gender-based violence and discrimination.
Territorial Agendas for Women, Peace, and Community Barrancabermeja –Magdalena Medio, March 22, 2020
Organización Femenina Popular, Programa de Desarrollo y Paz del Magdalena Medio, Mujeres Yarima, Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados –Colombia, Mesa Mujer y Equidad de Género, Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, Equipos Cristianos de Acción por la Paz, Pensamiento y Acción Social, Confluencia de Mujeres para la Acción Pública, Espacio de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de Derechos Humanos.