Jineth Bedoya is the protagonist of the first case concerning an act of sexual violence perpetrated in Colombia that has reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court HR) (BBC News Mundo, 2021). As such, her quest for justice is a milestone in the protection of sexual violence victims in Colombia. Learn more about Bedoya’s story and work here.
Jineth Bedoya was born on October 22, 1974, in Bogotá. A trained journalist, she started her career in 1997. By 1999, she focused on investigating what went on in Colombian prisons (Cruz, 2019). She also worked to uncover crimes by illegal armed groups, allegedly known to State agents (BBC News Mundo, 2021).
On May 25th, 2000, she went to one of Bogotá’s main prisons. She was to interview a paramilitary leader as part of her role at newspaper El Espectador. There, she was kidnapped, driven out of the city, tortured, and raped (BBC News Mundo, 2021).
These events led to Bedoya’s activism combatting violence against women.
Jineth Bedoya, the activist
Bedoya has led or participated in demonstrations against violence affecting Colombian women (Soto, 2020).
In 2009, she launched an awareness campaign. ‘This is not the time to be silent’ has helped survivors of sexual violence to demand justice. In fact, in 2014, the date of Bedoya’s kidnapping became Colombia’s official day for the dignity of victims of sexual violence (Palomino, 2021).
Furthermore, Bedoya has called for the recognition of sexual violence against women as a weapon of war in Colombia. She demands actions from the Colombian State toward that goal in her I/A Court HR’s case (BBC News Mundo, 2021).
Voicing the concerns of female journalists
Likewise, Bedoya has also denounced the Colombian State’s lack of disposition to tending to crimes against journalists (Palomino, 2021). A 2020 survey from her campaign shows six out of every ten female journalists have experienced harassment, persecution, and stigmatization in their line of work (BBC News Mundo, 2021).
The importance of her case
For eleven years, the Colombian State did little to achieve justice for Bedoya.As a result, she took them to the I/A Court HR. She claims they failed to protect her from real, imminent, and known threats against her. Additionally, she says the government did not show due diligence when investigating her case. They also revictimized her by requiring her statement regarding the crimes twelve different times (BBC News Mundo, 2021).
Eventually, Colombian justice tried and condemned three paramilitary members as perpetrators. However, there are still no results regarding the people who devised the attacks (BBC News Mundo, 2021). This is how Jineth Bedoya may set a precedent concerning crimes of sexual violence committed by armed actors and the justice systems that fail to try them.
BBC News Mundo. (2021). El caso de Jineth Bedoya, la víctima de violencia sexual durante el conflicto armado en Colombia que llevó al Estado ante un tribunal internacional. https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-56491673
Cruz, O. (2019). Jineth Bedoya Lima. Banrepcultural. https://enciclopedia.banrepcultural.org/index.php/Jineth_Bedoya_Lima
Palomino, S. (2021). Jineth Bedoya, la voz contra la violencia sexual. El País. https://elpais.com/sociedad/2021-03-31/jineth-bedoya-la-voz-contra-la-violencia-sexual.html
Soto, M. (2020). Jineth Bedoya: la guerrera de las mariposas. El Tiempo. https://www.eltiempo.com/cultura/gente/jineth-bedoya-perfil-de-la-periodista-colombiana-192020