Monday, October 29, 2012

Colombia: British Tourist, 23, Gang-Raped by Three Quasi-Independent Wayuu Tribesmen

A British tourist, 23, was reportedly gang-raped by three tribesmen on Sunday after she had a dispute with a group she was traveling with in a remote area of northern Colombia and subsequently got lost on her own near Cabo de la Vela, a village in the Guajira peninsula on Colombia’s north coast.

Unfortunately for the victim, she was raped by three Wayuu tribesmen who are guaranteed quasi-independence in the Colombian constitution. Consequently, although police attempted to arrest the three assailants, they were being protected by Wayuu villagers and were refused entry into the village settlement. Police and the local mayor, Abel Giacometto, have endeavored to persuade the Wayuu tribes leaders to hand over the suspects. 

COMMENT: According to the national police, the Wayuu claim that their settlement is protected, indigenous territory. Thus, they insist they have the authority to punish those responsible. Yet, both police and prosecutors are mandating that they have jurisdiction.

At this point, the police are accompanying the victim at all times until the matter has been resolved. They are also assisting the victim in her return to London.

It should also be noted that forensic specialists have collected a "rape kit" and concluded, based upon its analysis, that the victim was raped by multiple assailants.

As I have said all too many times in the past, solo travelers are at considerable risk, particularly in isolated and rural areas in developing countries. Yet, victims almost invariably believe that bad things happen to OTHER people, which is not always the case.

Travelers are also urged to choose their traveling partners very carefully, particularly when moving about in unfamiliar territory, as disagreements that force a group to splinter can easily put solo travelers at risk.

A final thought: If you do not have proficient skills when it comes to orienteering and topographical map reading, stay in larger towns and cities where there is less likelihood of getting lost and placed in vulnerable situations.