Over 300 women from the northeast and middle Magdalena regions gathered over two days, on November 10 and 11 to develop a proposal on their role and demands in a post-agreement Colombia. Women have been the primary victims of these last five decades of war but have also been protagonists in successfully lobbying for a negotiated end to the 52 year conflict between the FARC-EP and the Colombian state.
Celebrating the voice of women!
” … Since the government of Belisario Betancur in 1982 up to the current peace process with President Santos, 61 documents have been signed that establish pacts between the government and armed groups – some of which were part of peace processes – where women on both sides have only managed an average participation of about 3.6% as part of the direct negotiation teams.”
It is a sad context and reality in which we are living in the world today in 2016. Many times we believe that we are more advanced as a society and we often look back at ancient societies as backward for having acted a certain way or having certain beliefs.
On the 3rd of April at 10.30am, Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) received a threatening phone call from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.
He began the call saying, “You should donate 3 million pesos [US$ 1500] to the paramilitary group to mobilize 30 men from Medellin to carry out a social-cleansing plan, to eliminate drug addicts, prostitutes, and everything that smells like a guerrilla.” He described to Sor Maria her whereabouts, where she and her daughter worked, and the color of the motorcycle she drove.
On February 18 2013 CPT Colombia sent out an urgent action in support of Women’s Popular Organization (OFP) leader GLORIA AMPARO SUAREZ. On February 11th 2013, a man came to the OFP office and made threats against Suarez and her two sons. Showing Suarez pictures of her sons, he told her that if the OFP didn’t stop causing a commotion at a national level they would kill her.
In a recent conversation with Gloria, she informed CPT Colombia that for security reasons she had decided to send her sons out of the country for an undetermined period of time. Through contacts they were able to receive scholarships to study in Europe.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is gravely concerned about the safety and security of the leadership and the families of the Women’s Popular Organization (Organización Femenina Popular –OFP-), one of CPT’s partners in Colombia. Yolanda Becerra, the national director, and Gloria Amparo Suarez, regional coordinator of the OFP, have been threatened with violence against their children. (More background is available below.) The OFP has worked in the region of the Magdalena Medio for 40 years defending women’s rights. As part of their work they have confronted and publicly denounced the state and illegal armed actors of conflicts for violations committed against women.
Gloria, a leader and organizer from the Popular Women’s Organization (OFP) and I responded to an emergency accompaniment. Minutes before calling CPT, Gloria had received a call from a friend at social services asking for support for a young woman who was attempting to flee from a situation of sexual slavery.
At the Prosecutor General’s office Yasmin,* whom we had been requested to accompany, shared with us her story: “I am from Medellin, but live in Bogota. I have a kid, no family to support me. I have a mother but…I got an offer to work in Barranca in a family home and then when I came I realized it was a brothel.” She continued to explain that on fleeing from the brothel she went to one of the small shops close to the bus station where the owner, a woman, helped her to get to the police station, who then directed her to the Prosecutor General’s Office.