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Excerpted From: Julie Goldscheid, Gender Violence Against Afro-Colombian Women: Making the Promise of International Human Rights Law Real, 4 Columbia Human Rights Law Review Online 249 (May 27, 2020 (92 Footnotes) (Full Document)


JulieGoldscheidIn the wake of the historic inclusion of racial and gender justice provisions in the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”), gender violence in Colombia continues with devastating effect, and with a particularly harmful impact on Afro-descendant and Indigenous women and their communities. Colombia continues to experience violence, including sexual and gender-based violence and femicide, and the most vulnerable groups of women, particularly Afro-descendant, indigenous, rural, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, and women with disabilities, disproportionately suffer serious violations without State protection or access to justice.

Advocates have sought to ensure that the State fulfills its promise to guarantee the rights of women who have been subjected to gender violence at the hands of militia, the State and of private actors. In particular, advocates have sought to raise awareness about the ways gender violence impacts Afro-descendant Colombian women and to ensure that State responses address their needs. This essay builds on those calls for action. It draws on a convening of members of Proceso de Comunidades Negras (“PCN”), in collaboration with representatives from MADRE, and CUNY Law School's Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic (“HRGJ”), in February 2019. It details the ways gender violence has particularly impacted Afro-descendant women and their communities, and situates those experiences within structural challenges facing the Colombian state. This essay reviews international human rights obligations requiring States to attend to the ways intersecting forms of discrimination impact survivors' experiences of violence and enumerates recommendations for reform.

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International human rights norms confirm the necessity of focusing on the experiences of those who are most marginalized in order to make the promise of human rights real. Black Afro-descendant Colombian women continue to suffer disproportionate violence in the aftermath of the 2016 historic peace agreement. Their experiences and recommendations should be centered in ongoing efforts to ensure full implementation of the peace process and the country's compliance with international human rights laws. 

Julie Goldscheid, Professor of Law, CUNY Law School.

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