Colombia's Silent Problem

We have identified the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) as one of the most pressing dangers facing vulnerable children throughout the country, particularly in Bogotá, Quibdó, and Cartagena

How many children are affected by sexual violence in Colombia? 

 

The exact numbers surrounding the sexual exploitation of children in Colombia are unknown due to an enduring culture of silence but 
the figures estimated by the Colombian government are alarming:

  • 200,000 children in Colombia are sexually abused each year.
  • Over 35,000 children are involved in commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC) in Colombia annually.
  • More than 13,000 people reported incidents of sexual violence between January and August of 2021.
 

Why has sexual violence against children worsened in recent years?

 

  • The pandemic caused children to spend the majority of their time at home and online, resulting a notable increase in domestic and online sexual abuse, specifically child pornography.
  • Sexual exploitation and trauma is generational. Many children, grow up with family members that are engaged in sex work, thereby normalizing it. And recent economic strains have led some desperate families to put their own children into sex work.
  • Colombia has experienced an influx in Venezuelan migrants and sexual violence and exploitation, fuelled by xenophobia, towards migrant women and children has increased. 
  • Many children are silenced by their abusers and few abusers are brought to justice by the criminal justice system. It is estimated that between 2005 and 2018, only 6,000 out of more than 80,000 cases of sexual abuse against children ended in conviction.

We work with partners in Bogotá, Cartagena and Quibdó to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and young people

Combatting sexual exploitation in Bogotá's 'tolerance zone'

Our partner Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ) works in Bogotá combating child sexual exploitation at a youth centre in Santa Fe, in the middle of the ‘tolerance zone’, a particularly vulnerable zone where sex work, gangs and drugs are rife. In this youth centre, ACJ runs recreational workshops for children and adolescents, as well as providing psychological support for them and their families. Through this they are able to learn about their rights and gain skills to protect themselves from exploitation. ACJ also helps sex workers and informal workers to find alternative employment routes which are better for their wellbeing. 

Preventing sexual exploitation through music, dance and theatre

Our partner Círculo de Estudios (CDE) works to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the regions of Cartagena & Quibdó. Workshops are run to teach young people about their rights and psychological support is provided to survivors and their families. The children learn how to overcome the trauma they suffer as a result of their experiences, and how to protect themselves from future violence.

Much of our work with our partner Circulo de Estudios (in Quibdó & Cartagena) centres around music, theatre and dance workshops. These art forms enable young people to express themselves, and at the same time reclaim ownership of their bodies in a positive way, as vessels for beauty rather than of exploitation and pain.

Furthermore, it is one of the only opportunities they have to play and behave as children, in a community where they are more likely to be valued as a means of bringing in more income for their family or for carrying out tasks for an armed group.

All these things help the recovery process, helping to shape brighter, healthier futures.

Help us break the cycle of abuse in Colombia, please donate today.

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