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The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence

Month

December 2010

Help for Rape Victims in Cartagena, Columbia

Here in my travels, I’m stopping in Cartagena, Columbia.  I can only find information for rape victims on the Embassy website for American’s traveling (which is better than some embassy websites)  It’s wonderful that they put information on how to preserve evidence.

Here is info taken from the Bogota. Columbia Embassy website.

Special Information for Cases of Sexual Assault and Rape:

Physical evidence is very important in sexual assault cases, and can deteriorate as time passes.  As such, victims should not change clothes, avoid bathing if possible, and have a physical exam at the first opportunity.  You should take these steps even if you are unsure about whether to report the crime to police.  If you decide to pursue a prosecution at a later time, these steps preserve evidence that will assist the prosecutor.  A consular officer or after-hours duty officer from the U.S. Embassy may be able to accompany victims of sexual assault for the medical exam. You should get medical attention to determine if you have been injured in any way and to discuss treatment and prevention options for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  The U.S. Embassy can provide you with a list of local doctors.

In Colombia the legal definition of rape and sexual assault does not vary from region to region.  Rape and sexual assault are characterized as acts performed with the use of force, weapons and/or intimidation by the assailant.  It is often committed in isolated places, or when the assailants take advantage of the absence of surveillance and security measures. This may be a premeditated crime or crime of opportunity.  In many cases the assailant remains unknown. The law provides for sentences ranging from eight to 15 years of imprisonment for violent sexual assault.  For acts of spousal sexual violence, the law mandates sentences of six months to two years and denies probation or bail to offenders who disobey restraining orders.

Instituto de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses (Forensic Institute)
Calle 7 A No. 12-61
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel. 4069977 – 4069944

Authorizes and performs forensic sexual assault exam in all cases of rape and sexual assault. The exam involves collection of blood samples, semen, or other substances, as well as a psychological and sociological evaluation. The victim may bring a family member or a witness to the exam, and a minor may be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  There is no fee for the exam, because it is required as a part of legal process.  If the victim refuses to take the exam, it may make a difference during the trial, as there will be no physical evidence for the legal process to consider. However, the medical exam is not necessary to file the charges. The victim can report the case to a Family Commissioner, Police or Unidad de Reacción Inmediata.  Afterwards, the case is forwarded to Unidad Especializada en Delitos Contra La Libertad Sexual y la Dignidad Humana. The victim is interviewed by Colombian judicial officials, a psychologist and an investigator. The laws within the Colombian Criminal Code protect the identity of a victim of sexual assault, and the media must comply with the law.

The rape crisis hotlines: (operators speak Spanish only)

Instituto Colombiano de Bienstar Familiar (ICBF) – 018000918080 – 24 hours
ICBF provides psycho-social, medical, and legal support to victims of sexual violence.

Centro de Atención Integral a Victimas de Delitos Sexuales
Diagonal 34 No. 5-18, Tel. 2880557, 2324011

Special Information for Cases of Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence is a crime under the Colombian Penal Code. The National Constitution sets the guidelines for implementing prevention, solution and punishment of violence within the family. Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, remains a serious problem in Colombia.  Judicial authorities may remove an abuser from the household and require counseling.  Prison time is possible if the abuser causes grave harm or the abuse is recurrent; however, provisions for fines are generally not applied.  The law stipulates that the government must provide victims of domestic violence with immediate protection from physical or psychological abuse.  The ICBF provides safe houses and counseling for victims, but its services are dwarfed by the magnitude of the problem.  In addition to fulfilling traditional family counseling functions, the ICBF family ombudsmen handle domestic violence cases.  The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office conducts regional training workshops to promote the application of domestic violence statutes. If you need immediate assistance finding a place to stay the Embassy can also provide the names of hotels or a temporary shelter.

How can the victims obtain a restraining order?
Under Colombian law, every person, who is a victim of physical or psychological abuse, insult, offence or any other form of aggression within his/her family, can ask the family commissioner, the Civil Municipality or PROMISCUO Judge, for an immediate protective measure that helps to put an end to the violence or prevent its reoccurrence.  The request for a protective measure can be made personally by the victim, any other person that acts on his/her behalf, or by the family commissioner when the victim cannot do it, in writing or verbally .

The request for protection measures has to state the following clearly:

a) Name of requester and identity card number, if possible
b) Name of the victim
c) Name of the perpetrator and his/her address
d) Report of the facts
e) Request for necessary evidence

A commissary or judge upon receiving the petition will issue a restraining order within four hours.

“ASEDIO”- harassment or stalking in Colombia has a political connotation.  It is not considered to be a violent crime.

Point of contact to report domestic violence:

Local Police Stations

Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar 018000918080, 24 hours a day

The criminal report can be filed

  • at any URI
  • the Prosecutor’s Office
  • SAU or police officer and at the CAVIF located on Cra 13 # 18-38 First Floor in Bogota.

123 (equivalent of U.S. 911) in cases of security, fire, rescue, disasters, car accidents, public services emergencies (i.e. gas leaks, short circuits, etc), health emergencies, family violence

 

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Help for victims of violence in Aruba

I’m traveling throughout the Caribbean and Panama Canal – I thought I’d visit local centers but so far have only found info on embassy websites and generic weblistings.  The only thing listed for Aruba is the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Ministry of Social Affairs
País Aruba
Cargo Minister of Social Affairs
Representante Ramon Lee
Dependencia Ministry of Social Affairs
Dirección Oranjestad

Aruba

Tel: (297) 582-1100

Última actualización Agosto/2009

 

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