SEVEN Colombian soldiers face up to 30 years in prison after the sickening gang-rape of a 13-year-old girl.
The servicemen admitted to the rape of the child from the indigenous Embera tribe on June 21st.
She had gone missing from her rural reserve in Northern Colombia before being found the next day at a nearby school.
The army had been dispatched to enforce lockdown measures to help halt the spread of coronavirus.
The leader of the Embera tribe, Juan de Dios Queragama, said in a statement that the girl had been taken to hospital after her shocking ordeal.
He said: “It appears that some friends from (the rural settlement of) Santa Cecilia found her, because her mother was looking for her as she had been lost.
“When she went to look for her, she found the child at her school. When they picked her up, the child couldn’t walk.
“They took her directly to the hospital and from the hospital they took her to forensic services.”
The incident has shocked the nation and serves as the latest example for campaigners against sexual violence towards indigenous women in South America.
Demonstrators took to the streets over the weekend in a sit-in protest to condemn the vile actions of the army men.
Aida Quilcue is a human rights adviser at the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia and believes this is far from a one-off event.
She said: “We know that this is not an isolated issue, it is structural. I want to repudiate this atrocious fact that goes against the rights of women and of the indigenous peoples of Colombia.”
The country’s attorney general, Francisco Barbosa, said the men could receive a sentence of between 16 and 30 years in prison after the soldiers accepted the charge of “unlawful sexual abuse of a minor under 14 years old,” the age of consent in Columbia.
Colombia’s vice-president, Marta Lucia Ramirez, demanded swift justice to the accused.
She tweeted: “Colombia must be merciless with sexual abusers of minors, adolescents and women. Our solidarity with the girl and her family.”
The gruesome crime has brought attention to a disturbing pattern of violence against women, especially since lockdown began on March 20th.
Colombia has seen 110 women or girls killed in 2020, with 50 occurring during the pandemic.