Latin America & Caribbean

Hate crime: Colombia's new law punishing attacks on women

People march at Bogota's National Park on 3 June 3, 2012 to reject the brutal torture, rape and murder of 35-year-old Rosa Elvira Cely Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The brutal killing of Rosa Elvira Cely in 2012 caused shock among Colombians

Lawmakers in Colombia passed a bill on Tuesday imposing tough sentences for hate crimes against women.

The bill was passed with 104 votes in support and three against. It still needs to be signed by the president to become law.

It was named after Rosa Elvira Cely, a woman who was attacked, raped and murdered by a man in a park in the capital, Bogota, in May 2012.

Under the new law, those found guilty could face up to 50 years in jail.

It imposes longer sentences on crimes where women are targeted specifically because of their gender, including psychological, physical and sexual attacks.

'Endemic violence'

Presidential adviser for women's equality Martha Ordonez said that in Colombia a woman was the victim of a violent act on average every 13 minutes, and that every four days one was killed by her partner.

The brutality of the attack on Rosa Elvira Cely brought the issue to the forefront of the national debate in 2012.

Thousands of people marched to demand justice for the 35-year-old, who was found half naked and with signs of torture on her body after being attacked and raped in a Bogota park.

She died of her injuries four days later.

Police arrested a man who was studying at the same night school as Ms Cely. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

He was later sentenced to additional years in prison for abusing his underage daughters and raping another woman.

According to a 2013 World Health Organisation report, more than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence.

It said 38% of all women murdered were killed by their partners,

More on this story