Members of the FARC leftist guerrilla dance at a camp in a demobilization zone in the municipality of San Jose de Oriente, Cesar department, northern Colombia on February 28, 2017. AFP / Luis Acosta
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Armed with an AK-47, Gladis was expected to fight on the front line alongside her FARC guerrilla comrades, hoist heavy loads and stand guard, just as the men in rebel ranks did. That's real gender equality, said 42-year-old Gladis who has fought with the Marxist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), for more than two decades.Women make up about a third of the 7,000 FARC fighters set to demobilize over the coming months.The government, former rebels who deserted and rights groups have said gender inequality played out in the jungle as it did elsewhere, and women suffered abuse in FARC ranks, including forced abortions and being commanders' sex slaves.But guerrilla life as told by six FARC women and two commanders interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Colombia's northern mountains offers a different view, and the chance, rebels say, to counter false propaganda spread by their enemies.The FARC says its women fighters were treated as equals.The FARC deny forcing women and girls to undergo abortions and using women as sex slaves for commanders.The government and rights groups have collected scores of testimonies from women, mostly from civilians living in areas once controlled by the FARC, that they were victims of sexual violence at the hands of rebel fighters – crimes FARC commander Almeyda denied.
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