United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström this week undertook a four-day mission to Colombia in an effort to highlight ongoing problems of violence against women. “I understand that the country as a whole wants to look to the future, instead of dwelling on the past, but there can be no lasting peace without security and peace for women,” said Wallström on her first-ever trip to the country.
Wallström’s visit comes less than two weeks after Americas Quarterly social inclusion hero and human rights attorney Mónica Roa endured a campaign of intimidation that included gunshots fired through her office windows. Those acts—a likely response to Roa’s past support for Colombia’s new reproductive rights law—underscore the danger of sexual and gender-based violence facing Colombian women. As program director of the international rights group Women’s Link Worldwide Roa had filed a case that in 2006 led to legal changes allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality, or when the life or physical or mental health of the woman is at risk.
Wallström went on to say that “Impunity must never be an option,” and that she welcomed the government’s “commitment to a framework for strengthened cooperation between the Government and the UN, for putting survivors and victims of sexual violence at the center of our efforts to assist them, and to work together in an effort to increase the sharing of information and best practices.”