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Protecting Children of War

Colombia

Problem

For decades, Colombia's armed conflict has pitted government and right-wing paramilitary groups against anti-government guerrillas. Armed groups have especially targeted girls and young women, turning their bodies into battlefields. Disturbingly, this violence is often overlooked. These militants use rape as a weapon to terrorize women and their entire communities. And there's a lack of government programs to meet the needs of survivors.

For the dream of peace to be realized, those who were raped in the war will need healing, justice and an end to the stigma that mars their lives. Women struggle for their needs to be addressed in peace negotiations and to be recognized as leaders in creating lasting peace.

Solution

MADRE partners with a local organization called Taller de Vida, one of the few organizations working with rape survivors in war-affected communities. With your support, we provide counseling, peer support and art therapy to enable girls to overcome their experiences of war and trauma.

Partner for Social Change
  • We empower young women and girls through art therapy workshops and creative performances. Through music, dance, theater and more, they break through silence and stigma. Young survivors come to know that they are not alone, and they gain the confidence to speak out against the abuses they’ve experienced.
  • We protect lives by connecting survivors of violence to urgent services. We guide women and girls to report cases of sexual violence, find shelter, and access legal and medical services.

 

 

 

Advocate for Human Rights
  • We rally our allies and put pressure on leaders to act.  We document cases of human rights violations with a new referral system for survivors to report acts of violence and access health services and legal aid. By gathering testimonies and evidence of sexual violence, we shine a spotlight that triggers action from policymakers, including representatives at the peace negotiating table.
  • We mobilize a national and international advocacy campaign, led by young women. Our partners and the girls they support initiate public conversations about how to welcome and reintegrate former child soldiers and survivors of sexual violence. They talk about how to end the stigma associated with sexual violence.Through this campaign, their voices resonate in the media, on the streets, and in halls of power. We make sure that laws to protect girls and young women are passed and enforced.

“Young survivors will know that they are not alone.”

Results
  • Young women and girl survivors of sexual violence heal from the traumas they have endured. They find a vital community of support.
  • Local and international policymakers are compelled to meet the needs of girls and to confront sexual violence in this conflict.
  • Women make official peace negotiators recognize grassroots women's vital leadership in creating more peaceful communities, both in the midst of war and after any future peace agreement is signed.
Help women experiencing sexual violence  3

Your Support in Action

With your support, our local partners at Taller de Vida have been hard at work expanding our healing programs with former child soldiers and sexual violence survivors in El Chocó, Colombia.

Partner

Taller de Vida provides critical services for displaced Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women and youth. They work with former child soldiers and youth at risk of being recruited in Colombia's decades-long war, and use art and activism to create a peaceful future.

Issue

Rape used as a weapon of war. Domestic abuse used to enforce submission. Worldwide, women face violence that strips them of power and agency. It devastates those who are targeted and destroys the social fabric of families, communities and societies. But women are stepping up to stop it.

All photos credit to © Maureen Drennan

How You Can Help