Monday, May 6, 2013

"No Justice? No Peace!" The Women Absent from Colombia's Peace Talks

This article originally appeared on The Women's International Perspective on May 3, 2013.

• Yolanda Becerra presenting in the November 2012
Women's Court in the city of Barracabermeja.
Photo credit: Lina Mucha.
“No Justice? No Peace!” Never has this chant, which I have heard so often at anti-war rallies, felt so real to me as during the last few months observing the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas. The talks began in October of last year in Oslo, Norway and have continued in Havana ever since. “No Justice? No Peace!” Never has this belief been more real to women peace activists in Colombia, who, despite the fact that not a single woman is at the negotiating table in Havana, are insisting on justice for achieving real and lasting peace in Colombia. Women peace activists in Colombia are putting their demands for peace into action through grassroots justice initiatives.

Colombia’s nearly five decades of internal armed conflict has wreaked havoc on the country, resulting in countless deaths and leading to the internal displacement of between 4.9 and 5.5 million Colombians – over 10 percent of the country’s population. But even the little-known fact that Colombia’s internally displaced population rivals that of Sudan has received more attention than the ways this conflict has affected women. According to a comprehensive survey carried out in 2010 by national and international organizations, six women an hour were victims of sexual violence between 2001 and 2009.