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Colombia implements historic domestic violence legislation

posted by Miriam Wells
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Colombia Reports - domestic violence

Men who abuse their partners must be removed from their homes, and children must be taught about domestic violence in schools, the Colombian government has announced.

In a raft of measures aiming at making sure historic domestic violence legislation signed in 2008 is implemented, the government laid out the procedures for public officials and medical professionals to follow to make sure women are protected.

The “kiss and stick” culture must be banished, said Colombia’s justice minister Juan Carlos Esguerra, referring to the cycle of domestic violence in which perpetrators shower their victims with affection in order to gain forgiveness, before carrying out more attacks. A 2010 report found that a woman was killed by her partner every four days in Colombia.

Police must be able to take action following reports from anybody who witnesses violence against women — not just if the victim files a complaint — said the government. Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Senator Alexander Moreno Piraquive, President of the Commission for Women’s Equality, “No aggressor is going to have an easy time getting a woman to retract their complaint.”

The decrees encompass a four-pronged strategy, laying out judicial, labor, health and education policies aimed at ensuring the implementation of Ley 1257 — a 2008 piece of legislation dealing with the prevention and punishment of violence and discrimination against women.

Medical professionals will be obliged to report cases of suspected domestic violence, and specialized procedures must be established for comprehensive treatment of victims.

Education professionals are tasked with the identification, reporting and prevention of children’s behavior that could signal a future violent disposition — and ensuring pupils understand their sexual and reproductive rights.

In what may be the most ambitious element of the proposals, the government said public and private employers and their workers must come together to “eradicate every act of discrimination and violence against women in the workplace.”

Cristina Plaza,  the presidential advisor on women’s equality, said, “With these decrees what we are doing is giving guidelines for mechanisms and procedures within the state, at a national and local level. (…) The government of President Juan Manuel Santos is leading the crusade to protect the rights of victims of violence, with the aim of eradicating every type of violence against women.”

About the author

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Miriam Wells is a former BBC radio producer from the UK, now freelancing in Colombia. She additionally worked for The Sunday Times (UK), Christian Science Monitor, Toronto Star and InSight Crime, among others.

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