El Placer – Sexual Violence
The Washington Post
The small town of El Placer was once a thriving trade hub during the coca boom during the 1990s and early 2000s in the Colombian department of Putumayo. Growers would sell the coca paste to buyers, and FARC militias would regulate and tax the trade. They were the law: the authority that maintained order and resolved disputes. However, on the 7th November 1999, market day in the town, right-wing paramilitaries violently occupied the town, massacring 11 townsfolk and ejected the guerrilla militias.
The Colombian authorities came and picked-up the bodies, registered the deaths and left. But the paramilitaries remained. It was the beginning of a seven-year reign of terror in the town. Torture, killings and forced disappearances became commonplace as the paramilitaries were left to do as they wished, unmolested by the Colombian State. However, what most marked the paramilitary occupation was the sexual violence, forced sexual enslavement, rapes and femicides committed against women and young girls in the region.
Article published in the Washington Post newspaper and the USA’s National Public Radio – External links:
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Much of the research for the article was based on the report (in Spanish) published by the Centro de Memoria Historica: