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Protecting Children of War



For decades, Colombia's armed conflict has pitted government and right-wing paramilitary groups against anti-government guerrillas. Armed groups have especially targeted girls and young women, turning their bodies into battlefields. Disturbingly, this violence is often overlooked. These militants use rape as a weapon to terrorize women and their entire communities. And there's a lack of government programs to meet the needs of survivors.

For the dream of peace to be realized, those who were raped in the war will need healing, justice and an end to the stigma that mars their lives. Women struggle for their needs to be addressed in peace negotiations and to be recognized as leaders in creating lasting peace.


MADRE partners with a local organization called Taller de Vida, one of the few organizations working with rape survivors in war-affected communities. With your support, we provide counseling, peer support and art therapy to enable girls to overcome their experiences of war and trauma.

Partner for Social Change
  • We empower young women and girls through art therapy workshops and creative performances. Through music, dance, theater and more, they break through silence and stigma. Young survivors come to know that they are not alone, and they gain the confidence to speak out against the abuses they’ve experienced.
  • We protect lives by connecting survivors of violence to urgent services. We guide women and girls to report cases of sexual violence, find shelter, and access legal and medical services.




Advocate for Human Rights
  • We rally our allies and put pressure on leaders to act.  We document cases of human rights violations with a new referral system for survivors to report acts of violence and access health services and legal aid. By gathering testimonies and evidence of sexual violence, we shine a spotlight that triggers action from policymakers, including representatives at the peace negotiating table.
  • We mobilize a national and international advocacy campaign, led by young women. Our partners and the girls they support initiate public conversations about how to welcome and reintegrate former child soldiers and survivors of sexual violence. They talk about how to end the stigma associated with sexual violence. Through this campaign, their voices resonate in the media, on the streets, and in halls of power. We make sure that laws to protect girls and young women are passed and enforced.

“Young survivors will know that they are not alone.”

  • Young women and girl survivors of sexual violence heal from the traumas they have endured. They find a vital community of support.
  • Local and international policymakers are compelled to meet the needs of girls and to confront sexual violence in this conflict.
  • Women make official peace negotiators recognize grassroots women's vital leadership in creating more peaceful communities.
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“We are citizens with the capacity to build peace in our country. Despite this conviction, we have faced critical and difficult times. However, during these difficult times, MADRE has always given us the peace of mind and strength to continue our work. When we speak up and denounce, MADRE is always by our side... We have a commitment to the construction of peace in Colombia. The processes that Taller de Vida has built have allowed for those of us survivors of the armed conflict to empower ourselves and to have the strength and the capacity to be in key spaces in the construction of peace." 

- Stella Duque, Executive Director, Taller de Vida

Your Support in Action

Thanks to your support, MADRE and our local partners at Taller de Vida can continue to offer our healing programs for former child soldiers and sexual violence survivors in Colombia.


Taller de Vida provides critical services for displaced Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women and youth. They work with former child soldiers and youth at risk of being recruited in Colombia's decades-long war, and use art and activism to create a peaceful future.


Together with our partners, we help women to heal from abuse and become powerful advocates for every woman’s right to a life free of violence. We build clinics and counseling centers. We equip women with tools to prevent sexual assault in war and disaster. And every day, we affirm that gender violence doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

Press and Publications

All photos credit to © Maureen Drennan

How You Can Help