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Female Political Candidates in Columbia Face Violence and Death Threats

Fear is the tactic of male political candidates in Columbia, and it is used to deter women from running in the latest round of elections. Women have been threatened with sexual violence and even death, with seven candidates murdered and dozens attacked in what is considered the most deadly electoral year since Columbia signed a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia or FARC in 2016.

FARC dissidents have been blamed for murdering political candidate Karina Garcia last month in a car bomb in the city of Cauca. FARC has denied responsibility, while others suspect a political rival. Her murder is considered political femicide and a warning to women seeking political office. Women in politics challenge traditional male power structures, therefore threatening male egos and machismo, a form of toxic masculinity.

Researcher for women’s rights group Sisma Mujer Carolina Mosquera Vera told Aljazeera, “When women push back against these traditional patriarchal values that are so entrenched in Columbia society, this kind of violence emerges in an attempt to return them to the place societal norms have traditionally put them.”

A 2011 quota mandates women make up 30% of every electoral list. Currently, 12% of mayors in the country are women. More women in politics lead to priorities shifting to women’s rights and the disruption of the male power structure. 

Excellent article and coverage by Aljazeera on the latest challenges for women in Columbia. Read more about this story here.