Cracked identities: impacts, damage and violence on the bodies of women in the armed conflict

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According to the volume 'My body is the truth' of the Final Report of the Truth Commission, millions of women suffered mental, sexual, reproductive and sequelae on their identities

Cracked identities: impacts, damages and violence on the bodies of women in the armed conflict

Affectations to the bodies of women in the Colombian armed conflict, volume 'My body is the truth' of the Final Report of the Truth Commission. Infobae (Jesús Avilés)

«Many times one feels unworthy of being looked at, because they discriminate against him. When we went to do the route, there was a guard who told one of the people with whom we were doing this process: “Look, here come the raped women.” So, I think that these things… look, if you are a studied person, or I don't know, who is handling a situation like that, why do you have to come here to discriminate against women, they honestly revictimize you,” he told her. Nilsa, a woman who, along with others, was the victim of sexual violence by a member of the extinct Farc, told the Truth Commission.

Cracked identities: impacts, damage and violence on the bodies of women in the armed conflict

The violence perpetrated by state agents and groups such as the AUC against LGBTIQ+ people in Montes de MaríaAccording to the volume 'My body is the truth' of the Final Report of the Truth Commission, between 2000 and 2008 serious violence was committed against people of this community in this region that connects the Colombian Caribbean with the scepter of the country

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Precisely, revictimization is one of the many affectations to the body that thousands of women have suffered during and after the armed conflict, since in the midst of this search for reparative measures, various non-armed actors (institutions and the population itself) highlight said violence exerted about their humanity.

Sexism through language, contempt for women's lives and bodies, the closing of doors in many workplaces and public spaces, as well as the contempt for care work and the lack or loss of support networks mean that, according to the volume My body is the truth of the Final ReportMillions of them are at greater risk as their fears deepen. Silently, they have not only had to face forced displacement, the loss of their land, their crops, and their way of life; also the risk of being violated, threatened again, and assuming the leadership of the home through jobs whose conditions are precarious.

Cracked identities: impacts, damage and violence on the bodies of women in the armed conflict

Without a better past: violence against LGBTIQ+ people is not They were invented by warThe volume 'My body is the truth' pointed out that, with the Final Peace Agreement, the LGBTIQ+ population seeks to build a future that accepts difference, since in the pages of its history they have not found any that have accepted

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These and other impacts caused on the life and humanity of women have been linked to social constructions and historically attributed roles, including stereotypes and the responsibilities that fall on them. Added to this, the situation worsens when there are episodes of sexual violence involved, generating psychosocial effects. This accumulation of affectations means that years and even decades have to pass for a woman victim to stop feeling afraid to tell about her experience, and it is precisely this silence that has prevented us from understanding the magnitude of the cases of many women.

You may be interested in: Emotional manipulation and sexual violence: The other side of the recruitment of girls and adolescents by the Farc

Cracked identities: impacts, damage and violence on the bodies of women in the armed conflict

CTI recovered 11 bodies that would be dead members of the ELN and dissidents in clashes in AraucaInvestigations are underway to determine if alias “Solín” is among those killed, the main financial leader of the Heroes Battalion of the residual structures of the former Farc

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Another form of violence against women during and after being the main witnesses of the conflict was the stigmatization after the disappearance or murder of relatives. On this, the Commission collected the testimony of Olivia, whose husband was assassinated by the former Farc in 1991 in Otanche, Boyacá.

“People think that because you are a widow you cannot do things. The neighbors discriminate against you, they treat you as if you were a zero to the left, ”he lamented before the entity that was born from the Final Peace Agreement. But the stigmatization was not only against victims of the guerrilla: those who were violated by parastatal groups suffered accusations that prevented, to a large extent, access to social support measures.

“(…) I told you that it was as if you smelled like bad fish. Because people, you felt, didn't get close to you. We don't know for sure if not wanting to get closer was because there was no explanation, because people didn't know what to say to one, or if it was fear of stigmatization, right? In the beginning we were already 'the daughters of the deceased', 'the little girls of the man who was taken by the paramilitaries' (…) In fact, many people also know us for that reason,” she told him. Marcely to the Commission.

The loss of the meaning of life

“My life project was not affected, but, as a woman, my spirits did drop. I felt less of a woman; I felt, at one time, less of a woman than another woman,” Elsa told the Commission about the impact that the violence perpetrated against her during the conflict had on her mental health. In fact, she was one of 214 women who mentioned the existence of mental illnesses, including suicide attempts and self-harm episodes.

“I tried to kill myself twice, twice I took pills, twice, but thanks to…, I mean, I took them, but later I myself looked for a way to go, to survive.” Under these scenarios, the Truth Commission deduces that it becomes impossible for the victims to leave this experience behind or even assimilate it without generating crisis episodes due to violations of their dignity as women or consequences of losing their loved ones.

On the other hand, the entity rescues the strength of women who suffered violence that left marks on their mental health. Precisely this recognition evidences the existing stereotypes around mental pathologies and those who suffer from them; as if her life were reduced to these indications and the violated woman did not have the opportunity to continue with her life.

Affectations to sexual and reproductive rights, and their aftermath

< p class="paragraph">Maternity, planning and forced abortions, damage to the reproductive system and the ability to feel pleasure; as well as sexually transmitted diseases were some of the violence against the sexual and reproductive rights of thousands of women during the armed conflict.

Read also: An indelible mark: sexual and reproductive violence during the armed conflict in Colombia

On many occasions, these problems were compounded by the lack of access to the health system to treat STDs or to receive guidelines on sexual education and be aware of the effects received. “They found me the human papilloma. About twelve years ago. When I was going to have sex, it hurt a lot, I bled, until they took my Pap smear,” a woman told the Commission. Piedad, another woman who was sexually assaulted by the ELN and three guerrillas from the Farc front 35, told the entity that this fact not only caused her trauma, but also gynecological health problems.

“I got a tumor on my cervix. As a result of the rapes, I was left with a discharge. And that was… treatment, treatment, treatment. So there it was, years and years went by, well, and it was discovered that she had cancer, “she recounted.

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