Women displaced by conflict in Colombia are facing rape and domestic violence as well as obstacles in obtaining health care, protection and legal remedies, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a report [text, PDF; press release] released Wednesday. The report states that the four million women who have been forced out of their homes due to armed conflicts in the country are not adequately protected by Colombia laws and law enforcement. It claims that 37 percent of women in the country reported domestic violence in 2010, but for women who have been displaced the figure is higher, possibly up to 50 percent. HRW points out that even though the Colombian government has made progress in recent years enacting legislation to protect violence against women, the legal framework is often "not properly applied" and women are not receiving medical help or legal justice. HRW recommended that the president and legislative bodies of the country continue to implement laws aimed at providing more protections for women, and that agencies expand training and oversight of application of these laws and establish clear-cut "zero tolerance" policies to increase effectiveness of the legislation.
Human rights groups have urged Colombia to improve numerous human rights situations in the country over the past few years, including putting an end to the country's internal conflict. Last month, the UN urged the country to reconsider proposed constitutional amendments [JURIST report] that would make it more difficult to administer justice for alleged human rights abuse victims. In February, the UN also documented numerous sexual violence cases [JURIST report] arising from the country's conflicts. Last year, the UN called for Colombia to end the violence following an announcement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] that it would release several hostages, believing that this action may be a sign that peace was within reach.