Being Natalia Ponce: from Ashes to Flame

The Phoenix Rises from the Ashes | Vega is Convicted | The Meaning of Helping Others | A Happy Ending for Natalia Ponce and We All

The history of Natalia Ponce could have been an unfortunate one. In 2014, Jonathan Vega, a neighbor, attacked her with sulfuric acid and burned her face and body.

It was not the very first time these kinds of attacks took place in Colombia. Since 2000, there have been more than 150 attacks of this kind every year (El Tiempo, 2016).

Before being attacked, Natalia Ponce was an upper-middle-class woman who had studied abroad. She had just returned to the country to be with her family and friends. Jonathan Vega, a man with mental disorders and allegedly addicted to heroin, was obsessed with her. He wanted to kill her but opted for using acid instead.

Natalia Ponce: the Phoenix Rises from the Ashes  

Gender-based violence in its manifold manifestations was not new to Colombia, but Natalia Ponce’s tragedy moved the whole country. Mass media especially addressed her case. Maybe they did so because of her social position. Perhaps it was because conscious citizens were fed up. Violence against women takes the life of an average of two Colombian womenperday (Statista, 2020).

And Natalia not only survived but also proved to be a brave woman. Despite the tremendous physical and psychological damage, she rose from the ashes like the Phoenix. Instead of declaring herself buried alive, she decided to fight for the rights of those real Colombian women, who put up every day with the terror and humiliation of gender-based violence.

Vega is Convicted

After two years of court struggles, Jonathan Vega was finally convicted and sentenced to roughly 21 years in prison (the Bogota Post, 2016). It was the victory not only of Natalia Ponce but of millions of Colombian women who finally saw justice triumph. Vegas’ attorneys tried everything.

They even claimed that his client had schizophrenia. Nevertheless, the judges did not accept the argument. They pointed out that Vega was as sane as being able to plan the whole attack.

This victory gave Natalia Ponce the strength she needed to go on with her life. She reaffirmed her decision to help other Colombian women fight for their rights and eliminate gender-based violence.

The Meaning of Helping Others

Hatred is not a solution but a contribution to the vicious circle of violence. With this in mind, Natalia Ponce created her foundation in 2015 (We Produce, n.d.). The objective of the foundation is to “defend, promote and protect the human rights of the persons who have survived an attack with chemical agents and to prevent and sanction violence against women and girls from a human rights and gender-based approach.” (Fundación Natalia Ponce de León, n.d.).

The foundation has been working hard and has helped many women. Natalia has become a shero and icon for diverse victims of gender-based violence in the country and worldwide. 

A Happy Ending for Natalia Ponce and We All  

The best thing would have been Natalia not being attacked with acid or no woman at all for that matter. But it happened, and it continues happening. The good thing is that Natalia Ponce survived the tragedy. With her altruistic view, she will save the lives of many women today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.

References

El Tiempo (2016). Ataques con ácido: las víctimas anónimas. Retrieved from: https://www.eltiempo.com/multimedia/especiales/historias-de-ataques-con-acido-a-mujeres/16649647/1/index.html

Fundación Natalia Ponce de León (n.d). Nosotros. Retrieved from: https://fundacionnataliaponcedeleon.org/sobre-nosotros-2/

Statista (2020). Number of Femicides in Colombia from 2018 to 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1102503/number-femicides-colombia/

The Bogota Post (2016). Natalia Ponce Attacker Gets 21 Years in Jail. Retrieved from: https://thebogotapost.com/natalia-ponce-attacker-gets-21-years-in-jail/17921/

We Produce (n.d.). Natalia Ponce de León Foundation. Retrieved from https://storyweproduce.com/project/natalia-ponce-de-leon-foundation/