Now is the time to speak up about violence against women

Jineth Bedoya. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

"Women who are the victims of abuse have to raise our voices. If we all raise our voices together, we will make so much noise that that we will have to be heard in Colombia and all over the world."

Jineth Bedoya is a staunch defender of the rights of women who are victims of abuse within the context of the Colombian conflict.

She combines her activism with her profession as a journalist, which she began when she was just 23 years old and which led to her investigation of the dirty war in her country. Specifically because she tackled sensitive subjects, in 2000, she was kidnapped and raped. "At that time, I believed my life was over, I was contemplating suicide, but my work inspired me to carry on, to think about other women, like me, who had been victims of sexual abuse.”

Since then her life has been under threat. She travels in an armored car and is permanently accompanied by five bodyguards. "I sacrificed my personal life, I do not have a husband or children, but I have met thousands of women who have filled this space."

In 2009, she decided to talk publicly of what had happened to her. She was the first woman known to have done this, to take this brave step in order to draw attention to a problem that affects thousands of women in Colombia and that, in 90 per cent of cases, goes unpunished.

She has set up the campaign No es hora de callar (Now is the time to speak up, in English) that at the present time aims to raise awareness amongst men. "it is the men who cause 98 per cent of the problem, she says.

Ms. Bedoya has succeeded in persuading top-level footballers to make a video and to have her slogan displayed in the main soccer stadiums in Colombia. She is also a spokesperson for the campaign Violaciones y otras violencias, saquen mi cuerpo la guerra (Rape and other violence: leave my body out of war) promoted by more than 10 Colombian women's organizations and supported by Oxfam.

Jineth Bedoya is one of the “avanzadoras" women with whom Oxfam Intermón (Oxfam in Spain) is working. She is just one of the many examples of women who change their own lives and, at the same time, transform the lives of their communities, and who together build a fairer society.

In 2012, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award. Jineth’s attackers have still not been sentenced, despite the fact that their case was declared to be a crime against humanity.