Sexual violence violates children's rights - damaging their health, welfare and development - and increases their vulnerability to further violence. Despite this, it continues to be a major "silent" problem affecting children and young people and is not being addressed nationally.
The current situation in Colombia
In 2011, 19,433 children in Colombia reported being victims of sexual violence, of whom 7,304 were girls between the age of 10 and 14. Local NGOs estimate that only 30% of such cases are ever reported, and the Colombian Public Prosecutor estimates that each year around 200,000 children are sexually abused in Colombia. The majority of these children come from the lowest income groups, living in slums on the outskirts of the cities, and the abuse is usually either at the hands of a member of their own family, or the criminal gangs that control their neighbourhood. Because of the additional stigma surrounding children with specific vulnerabilities, including disability, HIV and AIDs, or those in care, sexual abuse in such cases is even more hidden.
Risks for children
Sexual violence is a horrific crime that has immense, long term effects on children's health, welfare and development. It can also pass on sexually transmitted infections, causing serious health issues, and can result in child pregnancy. Between 2010 and 2012, 17,578 child pregnancies were registered in Cali: 16,924 of these were girls aged 15-19 and 654 were girls aged 10-14.
Children who have experienced sexual abuse are also at greater risk of experiencing other violences, including commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC). CSEC affects an estimated 35,000 children in Colombia, some as young as 4, although it is likely that the real figures are much higher than this as, due to the stigma surrounding it, large numbers of cases go unreported.
What is Children Change Colombia doing?
Children Change Colombia is working with our local partners to strengthen children's protection against sexual violence or abuse and help them to deal with the traumas they have experienced and build a positive future for themselves. Our partners are also working with parents, schools, community groups, police, social workers, judges, and others, to help to create a protective environment for children and to identify and work with at risk children before they experience the horrors of sexual abuse.
Our partners working to protect children from sexual violence are: