Jineth Bedoya: Woman of Courage   


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International Women's Day - 8 March 2012

 

ABColombia remember the courage of women defenders working in Colombia and we are very pleased to see one of these courageous women awarded the USA Women of Courage Award.

 

The violent sexual attack against Jineth Bedoya, a journalist who writes on the armed conflict, corruption and state-sponsored violence, is one example of the way in which sexual violence is employed as a means to intimidate and punish women defenders for their work.

 

In May 2000, Jineth was kidnapped directly in front of a police patrol, outside the main gates of Bogota’s La Modelo prison where she was due to carry out an interview with one of the inmates, a paramilitary leader know as ‘The Baker'. She was held by her captors, thought to be paramilitaries, for more than 16 hours. Despite the fear that this generated and other threats, she continued working as a journalist in the country. In August 2003, she was kidnapped again, this time by Front 44 of the guerrilla group FARC in Caño Jabón (Guaviare), and held for 8 days.

 

“Almost 10 years ago on 25th May I was kidnapped when carrying out my work as a journalist, I was tortured, raped by three men…however I decided to stay in Colombia and didn’t want to go and choose the exile path, but to continue with my work in Colombia because I believed that this was my responsibility but I have to say that there are no guarantees, there are some security guarantees, but there is no justice guarantee for me to carry out this work and it is very difficult to carry out this work when you know that the perpetrators of these crimes are free.” [1]

 

The case of Jineth’s kidnapping and sexual abuse continues to languish in the Attorney-General’s office and has not advanced at all in over 10 years. Meanwhile, she continues to be threatened due to her work.

 

Eleven years after her ordeal and facing continuing threats and impunity for her kidnapping, Jineth submitted her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Right, on 24 May 2011, in order to seek justice through international mechanisms. Jineth also hopes that bringing her case to this arena will encourage her colleagues who have experienced sexual violence to report it and ask for justice.

 

[1] Extract from Jineth Bedoya’s oral evidence to the Conservative Human Rights Commission, given on 2 February 2010 quoted in ‘Supporting Women Human Rights Defenders' A Conservative Human Rights Commission Report, March 2010, p17.

 

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