The Colombian government has announced that it is investigating numerous cases of forced abortions allegedly carried out on female fighters by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The attorney general, Eduardo Montealegre, has said that they are examining more than 150 cases of alleged forced abortions carried out by the armed guerrilla group.
Speaking last week to national media organizations, Luis Gonzalez Leon, a public safety spokesperson, said that they have evidence that the forced abortions were part of the FARC’s policy to ensure that female fighters’ ability to be “an instrument of war” was not be compromised.
Human rights violations
“Several women died in these abortion practices, others were injured. Others referred to this as torture,” said González León.
A FARC member, Claudia Roa, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2013 that unknown to her, she had been given pills to induce the birth of her baby. The child was alive, but had been taken from her while she was passed out. She said that she was later told told that her baby had been murdered, suffocated to death.
In the same week that the government announced it would be investigating the human rights violations allegedly carried by the FARC, a medic accused of performing forced abortions was arrested in Spain. Hector Arboleda Albeidis Buitrago, known as ‘The Nurse’, allegedly carried more than 100 forced abortions on female rebels.
According to the BBC, Arboleda Buitrago had been working as a nurse in Spain for three years, and is currently being detained in Madrid while Colombia seeks his extradition.
According to the Guardian, Spanish police claim that the Colombian authorities have said that Arboleda Buitrago performed abortions on at least 50 underage girls, and that some of the victims were forced to undergo abortions in the later stages of pregnancy.
The United States Department of State 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Colombia revealed that nearly all the women and girls who had been demobilized from the FARC said they were forced to have between one and seven abortions.
According to New York-based women’s rights NGO Madre, a study by the Colombian Ministry of Defense’s Humanitarian Care Group for the Demobilized (GAHD) found that 31.2 percent of all former girl child soldiers revealed that after becoming pregnant they were then forced to have an abortion.
In another report conducted in 2003, ‘Voices of Girl Child Soldiers: Colombia’, young women and girls disclosed information about the human rights abuses committed by the FARC, including forced abortions.
“If a girl got pregnant she was made to have an abortion. I think this was very painful for the girls. I mean, imagine that, making someone have an abortion. You’re told, from when you join, that you can’t get pregnant. At that moment, the commander calls you over and he tells you that. They can’t use pregnant women, because at any moment a pregnant woman… they might even kill her,” one anonymous girl told interviewers.
During the last three years, the Colombian government and the FARC have entered in to serious talks in a bid the end the armed conflict which has been waging for five decades, and has displaced millions and killed more than 200,000 people.