In Colombia, per hour two children are victim of sexual abuse
According to official figures published by various organization, 75% of rape tests are administered to children under the age of 14. Despite these rates, a referendum that was presented to the Colombian Congress,which sought to condemn pedophiles and murderers of children to life in prison, failed to overcome the threshold.
The initiative led by Yohana Salamanca Jiménez, daughter of the ex-colombian senator Gilma Jiménez, required at least 1,750,000 signatures in order to be considered. However, it only reached 1,300,000. During an interview in an international channel, Salamanca declared that congressmen, governors, and non governmental institutions were contacted with the aim of inviting them to join the proposal in defense of Colombian children and, although many of them assured their support, the needed help was never received.
What is delaying the referendum?
For decades, Colombia has tried to put an end to children sexual abuse. Each year, cases like Yuliana Samboní (7 years old) and Sara Yolima Salazar (4 years old) –girls who were abused, raped, and murdered-, outrage the country. Surveys conducted by national media and other organizations, show that most citizens agree with the implementation of the punishment of life in prison for child rapists. However, when said legal initiative tries to reach Congress, it seems to have no government support.
A report published by ‘Medicina Legal’ in Colombia, shows that almost 15,000 test of sexual abuse are conducted to children every year in the South American country. These statistics suggest that almost 50 children are raped in the country every day; 40% of the cases, the victims are girls between the ages of 10 and 14 and almost 11% correspond to children between the ages of 0 and 4.
According to the authorities, less than 5% of all the crimes committed against children in Colombia are reported. This is due to the remote locations in which the crime occurs and if it’s perpetrated by a family member.
As Salamanca pointed out, his referendum began with in January 2017. According to the activist, more than 70% of Congress and the 32 governors of the country were contacted in order to seek their help and acquire political support. However, out of all the politicians contacted only two governors replied: Boyacá and Valle del Cauca.
How do other Latin American countries condemn pedophilia?
Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil ranked as the nations with the highest rates of sexual abuse towards childrens in South America. Even though these countries have laws that harshly punish sex crimes, they often struggle to reduce said figures.
Bolivia: In March of 2017, Bolivia presented a referendum to punish those who raped and murdered children with life in prison. According to data from the country's Ombudsman's Office, 83% of Bolivian children and adolescents have been victims of sexual abuse at some point of their lives.
Argentina: In this country, rapists of children can pay up to 20 years in prison. If the same person perpetrates more than one abuse towards a minor, the criminal can be sentenced to life in prison and chemical castration, if decided by a judge.
Peru and Chile: Life imprisonment in these countries can be applied in cases of rape in which the minor passes away.
Colombia: There is no life sentence for child molesters, but it has one of the most severe penal codes in the continent. However, 12% of Colombian children have been victims of sexual abuse.
Mexico: This is one of the countries with poorest child protection in Latin America. In 25 of the 32 states, child rape is not considered a felony and convicted abusers can get out of jail by paying fines.
Statistics from the Inter-American Children's Institute, show that in Latin America more than two million children and adolescents are sexually abused every year. This indicates that every hour 228 kids -mostly girls- are raped, half of the cases, by a family member.
Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto