Perpetual violence and absent states: the double lack of protection suffered by Venezuelan refugees

Perpetual violence and absent states: the double lack of protection suffered by Venezuelan refugees

Perpetual violence and absent states the double lack of protection

More than 6.1 million people have left Venezuela since 2015. Of these, around five million have fled to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than three million live in Colombia and Peru, and more than 50% are women and girls. Although gender-based violence is a “shadow pandemic” across the region, as UN Women warns, Venezuelan women who have fled their country face special conditions that put them in a situation of greater vulnerability. In this context, host States are failing in their duty to protect, either as refugees or as survivors of gender-based violence. That needs to be corrected.

We at Amnesty International condemn this failure of the Colombian and Peruvian states to protect Venezuelan women, based on a rigorous analysis of the situation on the ground and the regulations in force. We interviewed 63 of them living in Colombia and Peru; we conducted 45 research questionnaires with local NGOs and international organizations; we registered 17 requests for access to public information; we held 15 meetings with state institutions; We review national laws, public policies and international human rights standards. After months of investigation, we conclude that the states of Peru and Colombia are failing in their duty to guarantee Venezuelan women a life free of violence.

The states of Peru and Colombia are not fulfilling their duty to guarantee Venezuelan women a life free of violence

The dual lack of protection relates, on the one hand, to the lack of international protection as people fleeing massive human rights violations in Venezuela; and on the other hand, the lack of protection when they are subjected to gender-based violence, as they are often denied the right to justice and medical care. If both protection deficiencies are combined, the risks are also increased. By not having regular residency status in the country, their opportunities are reduced to informality, precariousness, and labor or sexual exploitation, which in turn precludes them from accessing public services such as health care or reporting acts of violence they suffer from being Venezuelan women.

The reality in both countries shows that xenophobia and discrimination based on their gender and nationality are major obstacles to guaranteeing their rights. The officials who care most about Venezuela’s survivors of gender-based violence — prosecutors, police officers, medical workers, and immigration workers — often employ compound stereotypes in their actions. In other words, they are not only discriminated against because of sex, but also because of other factors that come together, such as immigration status, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity, among others. This means that they are all too often discriminated against and re-harassed for a range of reasons: because they are women, Venezuelans, migrants and even in a situation of poverty. Carmen, a Venezuelan in Peru, whose real name we will not use to protect her identity, shared with us her own experience: “I went to the police station for the first time and I have not forgotten the look on the policeman’s face. He looked me up and down and said ‘Veneca’ [venezolana, en tono despectivo]“.

Officials who care most about Venezuelan survivors of gender-based violence often employ stereotypes in their actions

We call on the Colombian and Peruvian authorities to urgently correct this course and ensure the protection of refugees in both countries. First, they must guarantee them effective access to international protection and migration regularization mechanisms. This means, among other things, the abolition of exclusive and arbitrary requirements, such as B. entry before a certain date and proof thereof or the presence of a certain identity document.

On the other hand, Colombia and Peru must guarantee that frontline officials caring for survivors of gender-based violence receive adequate, systematic, mandatory, initial and ongoing training in the prevention and detection of this type of abuse. These programs must be designed to challenge gender stereotypes and address the specific needs of refugee and migrant women.

These are the first steps that the Peruvian and Colombian authorities must take. In the face of a crisis of this magnitude, states must be the protagonists of the solution, not the great absentees.

Clare of the field leads campaigns in South America for Amnesty International.

You can follow PLANETA FUTURO at TwitterFacebook and Instagram and subscribe to our “Newsletter” here.