The recent case of the murder of little Gabriel Esteban, probably at the hands of his father in a hotel in Melgar, who took him last Sunday, October 2 at his home in Bogotá to comply with a two-week visit granted as part of shared custody, sparked the country’s outrage.
So far, it is known that the minor left his house in the company of his father, Gabriel Gonzalez, who will be responsible for his death, apparently for revenge against the child’s mother, with whom he divorced.
But, What is behind this unpleasant fact and the numerous cases in Colombia where boys and girls are killed by their parents as part of the “revenge” of their mothers?
as well as there is a term known as indirect violence which refers to the facts in which direct violence against women is replaced by cruel acts against their relatives, usually sons and daughters.
This type of gender-based violence is characterized by causing permanent moral damage to women, who are hurt by killing their children as a method of revenge, almost always after breaking up with the person who acts as a father figure.
Carla Perez, Feminist Advocate of Sisma Mujer, explain the concept as “a gender based violence in which men continue to exercise power and dominance over women, in a structural context of discrimination“. He also pointed out that it is usually presented as “punishment for the decisions” they made after breaking up.
See also: Learn how to report cases of gender-based violence from anywhere in Colombia
It should be clarified that understanding it in this way does not seek to downplay or downplay obvious child abuse, who become subject to parents hurting their partner or ex-partner.
In addition, according to the expert, vicarious abuse continues even after separation, because it usually occurs within the framework of visitation and shared custody, where the parents are presumed to have the right and legitimacy to be with the children.
This is permanent moral damage that women carry throughout their lives.
How does indirect violence manifest itself?
For Carla Pérez, indirect violence almost always occurs in the context of personal relationships preceded by other types of violence against women in which even with precautionsmen manage to inflict moral damage.
“This happens because many times It does not check whether there is a history of violence against the father, be it for the woman or the boy or the girl,” Peres emphasized. He also stated that while not all men who are abusive to their partners are bad fathers, there is precedent to consider when studying these cases.
Many times they use children to attack women, they use legal harassment to intimidate and harass mothers and allow them visits.
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Indirect violence in Colombia
indirect violence not conceived and substantiated as a concept in the legal scenarios of the countryso it becomes difficult for organizations to ascertain the exact number of cases that are occurring.
However, this is what Sisma Mujer appreciates Between January and August 2020, at least 11 murders of girls and boys by their father or stepfather were recorded in Colombia. Of these, there are seven cases in which the murderer is the stepfather, and in the remaining four the father is named.
These figures, obtained by the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, come from existing complaints or processes that the organization believes represent a significant a gap between reality and what reaches the hands of power.
How to prevent indirect violence?
There are few policies in Colombia which seek to tackle gender-based violence with a different approach and, in Carla Pérez’s words, they arise only after the presentation of high-impact cases, as happened with femicide and Rosa Elvira Celli’s law.
That is why from Sisma Mujer they raise the need to work around the international efforts that are developing within the protection and prevention of violence.
According to the expert, lack of institutions in Colombia to protect women victims of violence This is reflected in the number of cases that are archived, mainly due to the lack of judges, commissioners and prosecutors trained to deal with gender issues from a non-revictimizing perspective.
Why must women always be left last, why is this secondary justice?
For Peres, the institutions responsible for investigating and dealing with violence against women “are the ones that are the least funded, the ones that have the fewest teams,” so in many cases justice and redress are often isolated.
Read also: Rosa Elvira Celli and the Murders of Women in Colombia: Ten Years of Recurring Tragedy
If there is no sanction, the message is one of impunity. Reparation is always hidden and it is extremely important that women are able to leave the context of violence.
In Colombia, although violence against women is increasingly important, there is still a long way to go in terms of awareness, education, protection and prevention.
Although there is Law 1257 of 2008 which defines guidelines for the prevention, protection and stabilization of women who are victims of violence in the public and private spheres, access to justice is usually re-victimizing and, at times, stereotyping.
When cases are reported, stereotypes still exist that women go to justice for revenge or for being liars. It’s a double standard, if we go to justice we are vindictive, but if we don’t they ask why we didn’t.