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Women defending human rights in Colombia

Colombia continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world to speak out in defence of human rights and the rule of law. But for women human rights defenders there are particular and increased risks and dangers. Christian Aid partners are calling for greater and more gender appropriate protection for these women.

  • ...[ tell your mother that] if she sees that another of her children has been beaten up she’ll know why; she should stop being a snitch, human rights defenders are guerrillas’

The above quote is a threat given to the daughter of a woman human rights defender as she was beaten up by two men in Bogota in November 2010.

Women defenders come from all walks of life; they are indigenous and Afro-Colombian women living in remote areas, trade unionists, internally displaced persons (IDPs), human rights lawyers defending victims of the conflict, lesbians and transgender women fighting against discrimination, journalists, mothers, daughters and sisters of the victims of extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances, and survivors of sexual violence.

Colombia - International Women's Day

Women human rights defenders in Colombia often put their own lives at risk. Photo credit: Jorge Mata Surimages IPA

They play a key role in helping to build peace and democracy. But they are incredibly vulnerable to attack.

Not only are they physically attacked themselves, but threats, aggressions and killings are also directed at their children in an attempt to generate terror.

Women human rights defenders face the increased risks of sexual attacks and harassment as well as the use of offensive ideas about their sexuality being used to discredit their reputations and work.

Read our partners’ report

Christian Aid partners ABColombia, USOC and OIDHACO have released a report documenting the threats, persecution and harassment faced by women human rights defenders in Colombia.

 It makes specific recommendations to the Colombian government and the international community to address the particular risks and dangers faced by women human rights defenders. 

Read the report on ABC Colombia website

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