Colombian government: FARC abusing female guerrillas
By Dialogo August 04, 2011
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – They’re often raped.
They’re often forced to have abortions.
They’re often put at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
Female members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) often are targets of physical and sexual abuse by their male counterparts in the country’s largest terrorist group, according to the Colombian government.
The government based its findings on information and witness accounts detailed in a report by the National Police following years of successful operations against the guerrilla group that has been fighting the state since the 1960s.
“Women in the FARC are supposedly treated as equals, [since they] risk their lives the same way as their [male] comrades in the name of the cause they defend,” said Germán Ortiz, a professor at Bogotá’s Del Rosario University who specializes in the country’s internal armed conflict. “They pretend to ‘sell’ the idea that women play prominent roles in their criminal hierarchy, and that they’re a vital part of it.”
Ortiz added: “[But] the truth is the FARC’s female members are the ones who are being mistreated, based on what we’ve learned from freed kidnapping victims and from female FARC members who have fled the terrorist group.”
The Colombian government intercepted a communication sent by FARC leader Henry Castellanos Garzón – recently sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison – which detailed the mistreatment of female guerrillas.
“Things are really screwed up with so many bombs, and now you have to add to that that seven of them became pregnant in the last four months,” Castellanos, known as “Romaña,” said to the FARC’s Eastern Command. “[One female member] had to be sent to Bogotá because she was five months pregnant and had been hiding her belly with a girdle. She can come back next month.”
The majority of the FARC’s female members are between 18 and 30, according to the National Police.
The Colombian government confirmed a report by the Colombian daily El Tiempo that stated security forces witnessed women being sexually abused just a few kilometers from where they rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt in July 2008.
According to information found on computers seized during a 2010 raid in which high-ranking FARC leader Víctor Julio Suárez was killed: “Four young women were being put through the toughest ‘test’ imposed by a FARC commander: One by one, in exchange for not receiving punishment, they were forced to have sexual relations with ‘Canatuaro,’ who had been diagnosed with syphilis. He infected them all.”
Betancourt, who was held hostage by the FARC for more than six years, recently said “in general, the women guerrillas … had worked as prostitutes, which makes them look at the FARC as a step up.”
“[The women] suffer in a kind of revolutionary prison by the [FARC] leaders,” Betancourt said.
Marloes Nijmeijer, a member of the program “Women to Women Operation,” which encourages women to leave guerrilla groups, said members of the FARC often are sexual predators.
“The real problem is the fixation these groups have with recruiting girls at a young age to satisfy sexual demands for the FARC, luring them into a kind of life that in truth will not get them anywhere,” said Nijmeijer, whose sister, Tanja, joined the FARC in 2007. “I want to help other women in the conflict so they don’t enter into a life of deceit, abuse, and cruelty. There are many ways of getting back on track toward a good life after having been in the conflict, and that’s my mission here.”
The National Police reported in June that 28% of those recruited by the FARC since 2009 are women.
“For a woman in the FARC to have a child, she must go through several bureaucratic steps, which means the FARC leaders rule the women’s lives,” said Leonardo Ordóñez, an expert in the sociology of terrorism who teaches at Del Rosario University. “That’s why many women flee when they realize [this] deception. On the flip side of the coin, there are women who have power within the organization, since they can do what they please and they’re respected. These women use their sense of equality to attract new members, but their actions speak for themselves.”
That it is a shame that in the 21 century with all existent technology the guerillas cannot be eliminated, it is a shame that these girls and boys have to go through that outrage, without anybody doing anything for them and for those children that are recruited. God give mercy to those people and towns, which are at the mercy of those revolutionaries that do not have contributed anything to their country. Maybe this unnecessary violence will ends soon that leads nowhere but satisfying the low instincts of those barbarians and without feelings men. Yeah, you can see that the world has different faces.