Colombia is still one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a journalist. The journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima was kidnapped, tortured and raped eleven years ago, on May 25, 2000, when she showed up to interview a paramilitary. She was snatched outside La Modelo prison and released a three-hour drive away in Villavicencio, Meta. Jineth was then a reporter for El Espectador; she is now the judicial editor for El Tiempo.
Three weeks after that May 25, 2000, “I decided to bury completely my role as a victim and devote myself to being a journalist,” Jineth told El Tiempo. “I understood my obligation as a victim and a journalist was to be the voice of women who perhaps do not have the resources to have a voice. And with this, I do not want to say I’m brave because perhaps I am one of the worst cowards.”
Between 2000 and 2009, almost 500,000 women have been victims of sexual violence in Colombia.
So far, eleven years later, no one has been charged with the crimes against Jineth. The Foundation for Freedom of the Press (Flip) started a formal complaint against the Colombian government at the OAS’ Inter-American Commission for Human Rights—because someone has to be held responsible.
Twenty days ago, Jineth, now 38, was interviewing a “para,” when he confessed to the crime, amid a slew of apologies. Jineth says that story will be told—in time. She only asks that this man’s life be respected.
Jineth won the 2001 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.
She also been honored by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
She is certainly one of my heroes.