Human Lives Human Rights: Colombia and Peru have failed to guarantee, protect and respect the right to a life free of violence and discrimination for Venezuelan refugee women, who face gender-based violence in all areas of life.
Protection from gender-based violence should be a priority for all states in the Americas, as should the protection of those fleeing massive human rights violations in their countries of origin. Instead, Venezuelan refugee women are facing a double and brutal lack of protection.
More than six million people have fled Venezuela in recent years because of massive human rights violations. Colombia and Peru have received the largest numbers of Venezuelans, together hosting more than 50% of all those who have fled Venezuela.
Venezuelans are in need of international protection and have the right to request that their refugee status be recognized.
Venezuelan refugee women, who represent 50% and 58% of the Venezuelan population in Colombia and Peru, face violence and discrimination in all aspects of their lives because of their gender and nationality.
In public spaces, they face attacks both along the migration routes and in the places where they settle. In the family, they face economic, patrimonial, physical and sexual violence, predominantly from partners or former partners. And in the work environment, they experience various forms of violence and labor exploitation, including being co-opted for work for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Meanwhile, the Colombian and Peruvian states are manifestly not complying with their obligation to guarantee a life free from violence and discrimination to Venezuelan refugee women, or to guarantee access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence.
Many Venezuelan women who are victims of male violence and whose lives are at risk prefer not to report for fear of being expelled from the country owing to their documentation status. The violence and risks they face are exacerbated by the absence of specialized protocols to support and protect them.
According to official figures, gender-based violence against Venezuelan refugee women in Colombia increased by 71% between 2018 and 2021, and in Peru by 31% between 2019 and 2021. Xenophobia, migration status, myths about foreign nationals causing security issues, and prejudices related to women’s perceived sexuality, coupled with socially predetermined gender roles, increase the risks faced by Venezuelan refugee women.
Rights groups call on the Colombian and Peruvian authorities to take immediate measures to ensure that Venezuelan women can enjoy a life free from violence and without discrimination based on gender, nationality, migration status or any other grounds.
In particular, the Colombian and Peruvian governments should combat stigmatization of and discrimination against Venezuelan women, ensure their access to international protection, ensure effective access to justice, improve measures to prevent and address gender-based violence, and ensure comprehensive healthcare for women survivors of gender-based violence.