Colombia investigates forced abortions in rebel ranks

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Scores of women rebel fighters were forced to undergo abortions under a policy of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in their five-decade war against the government, Colombia’s top prosecutor said on Friday.

Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre said his office was investigating 150 cases of former female rebel fighters who had given testimonies saying they were forced to terminate their pregnancies.

“We have evidence to prove that forced abortion was a policy of the FARC that was based on forcing a female fighter to abort so as not to lose her as an instrument of war,” Montealegre told local media.

One FARC fighter, Claudia Roa, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in 2013 she was unknowingly given pills to induce the birth of her baby eight months into her pregnancy, when she was aged 14. The baby was then suffocated.

In the past the FARC has denied forcing women and girls to undergo abortions and said contraception is provided to female fighters in their ranks.

There are roughly 7,000 rebel fighters, and women and girls are thought to make up nearly a third of FARC ranks, according to government estimates. Female fighters are expected to fight alongside men and are taught to handle AK-47 assault rifles.

The government has been in talks with the FARC for the past three years to end a 51-year-old conflict that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions.


As part of the peace talks, both sides agreed in September to create special courts to try guerrillas and members of the military, with a maximum eight-year detention to be imposed on those who admit to war crimes.

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