In 1996, 26-year-old journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima was abducted from a Colombian prison known for its dangerous ties to the country’s arms trafficking. She was gang-raped, tortured and held prisoner by a right-wing parliamentary group who had been staged outside the prison walls following a riot she was covering. Less than four years later, she was kidnapped and tortured again by the opposing leftist militia known as FARC.
After experiencing unbelievable terror at the hand of her divided country, Jineth Bedoya Lima broke her silence. In 2009, she staked her claim as the voice of the more than 500,000 women subjected to rape and torture in the name of war and conflict over the past decade.
In the end, it’s journalism that Bedoya says saved her life. And it’s journalism she is hoping will save the lives of other women like her: “How did I overcome my fear, when it looked like my life was over? How did I continue as a woman and a journalist when faced with this black wall? I needed to know what happened. When I leave this world, I need to have known what happened to Jineth Bedoya, to my colleagues and so many other women.”
“I refused to go into exile after this, and I continued to work as a journalist,” said Bedoya, who went on to found the group Survivors United for Action. Today she is a reporter and editor at El Tiempo and her fierce activism aims to eliminate the condemnation felt by survivors of sexual violence. Giving victims the courage to come forward with their own stories, Bedoya says, is the means to changing the reality of women who have faced sexual violence.