On 27 March 2014, the Colombian Campaign ‘Rape and other violence: Leave my body out of the war,’ released a report in Bogota entitled “Stop hunting children! Report on sexual violence committed against children and adolescents in the armed conflict in Colombia.”

The Campaign is comprised of ten Colombian women’s and human rights organizations[1], supported by Oxfam,and was launched in 2009. Its aim is to give visibility to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the context of the Colombian armed conflict. The Campaign also seeks an effective response from the Colombian Government in terms of preventing, eliminating and sanctioning this terrible crime.

The report reveals that at least 48,915 children under the age of 18, including 7,602 boys, suffered some type of sexual violence, including  rape, sexual exploitation, and forced prostitution at the hands of the Colombian security forces, as well as non-State armed groups, between 2008 and 2012. “The numbers are appalling. It’s an underreported problem. Knowing this is important because it informs the response the Colombian government has to provide for its children,” said Diana Arango, the Campaign’s coordinator.

The report is released as President Juan Manual Santos and the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are negotiating a political solution to the conflict. While the progress realized in the negotiations is promising, the six point agenda guiding negotiation between the Government and the FARC fails to include the rights of child victims of the conflict. As such, the Coalition against the involvement of boys, girls and youth in the armed conflict in Colombia (COALICO)[2] is calling on all parties to ensure that child protection concerns, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers and sexual violence against children, are systematically incorporated in the ongoing peace talks between the Government and the FARC.

[1] Asociación de Mujeres y Madres Abriendo Caminos; Asociación Santa Rita para la Educación y Promoción – FUNSAREP; Centro de Promoción y Cultura CPC – FASOL; Coalición contra la vinculación de niños, niñas y jóvenes al conflicto armado en Colombia – COALICO; Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo; Comisión Colombiana De Juristas; Corporación Casa de la Mujer; Corporación Vamos Mujer; Humanidad Vigente Corporación Jurídica; Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres.

[2] COALICO is a network composed of 8 organizations working on the protection of children affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. It was created in October 1999 with the aim of contributing to the reduction in the use, recruitment, and involvement of boys, girls and young people in the armed conflict through observation, prevention, protection, and political advocacy.