48 violent deaths a day



Homicides up by more than 2,0000 cases in 2009, resulting in the highest violent death toll of the last five years


In the merriest country in the world, according to surveys by an international consultancy firm, every hour two people die a violent death.


On any given day, 48 Colombians will be found dead on the streets, gunned down or stabbed to death. Last year, 17,717 Colombians met a violent end. In 2008, that figure had been 15,250.


Not since 2004 had Colombia seen such a critical rise in these statistics, compiled by the Forensic Medicine Department in its annual report “Forensics: living figures,” released this month.


The number of people murdered in Bogotá rose to an estimated 1,649. In 2008, 1,466 Bogotá residents had died a violent death.


According to the report, suicide is the fourth leading cause of violent death in Colombia.


Last year, 1,845 people took their own lives, a figure similar to the 1,841 registered in 2008. The vast majority of suicide victims (1,480) are men, with the critical time being the evening, as most commit suicide between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Among women suicide is more common from noon to 5:00 p.m.


As in previous years, most suicides occurred on Sundays. Sunday is also the day of the week in which most other forms of violence take place, including abuse committed against spouses or partners and the elderly and physical aggressions.


Statistically, Wednesdays are the least violent days. Of 14,094 cases registered last year, only 2,167 occurred on that day of the week.


In Colombia, 69,158 people were hurt in violent disputes last year (an average of 189 a day), 21,612 reported they had been victims of sexual abuse (a rate of 59 a day), and the rate of children abused by a parent, stepparent or other relative stood at 88 per hour.


Sadly, these statistics confirm that life in Colombia is considered worthless.


Almost every indicator, including physical aggressions, domestic violence and sexual abuse, saw increases. Although other violent acts, such as traffic accidents, registered a drop in the number of victims (39,167 in 2009 down from 45,888 in 2008), they are still a matter of concern for the authorities, and according to the Traffic Incident Prevention Fund, “must be placed on the public agenda as a priority issue.”


An especially alarming case is that of Antioquia, the department (province) with the highest number of homicides (4,481) and suicides (292); its capital, Medellín, is also the city with the highest number of murders in 2009: 2,186.


And upon examination of the figures presented by the Forensic Medicine Department in 2008, the situation in this department is even more alarming: 2,399 homicides, 276 suicides and 1,066 murders in Medellín. Antioquia also has the municipality with the highest number of reported murders: Itagüí, with 332.


Disappeared persons: 18,236 in 2009


The figures speak for themselves: the number of people who disappeared in the country jumped from  4,323 in 2007 to 15,696 in 2008. That number continued to grow last year, with 18,236 people reported missing.


The 2009 Forensics report reveals that this increase is due to greater efforts by bodies such as the Technical Investigations Bureau, the Unit for Justice and Peace of the District Attorney’s Office, and the Search for Disappeared Persons Commission, which have conducted sweeping investigations that have enabled the registration of cases that existed on paper files nationwide since the 1990s.


As there is no limit to the date of the disappearance that can be reported and investigated, there are some cases that date back to the early 20th century. Thus, the department with the greatest number of disappearances is Antioquia, with 3,976 (3,471 in 2008). It’s followed by Capital District with 3,769 reports of disappearances (3.279 in 2008), Valle del Cauca with 1,926, Putumayo with 769 and Tolima with 561.


Of all the people reported missing in 2009, 1,786 were girls aged 10 to 20 years. Eight were infants or children under two. Men aged 50 or older accounted for 3,237 of the missing persons. And 500 were women from 30 to 40 years old.

May 21, de 2010


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