Voices of Dignity – Women Survivors of Colombia's Armed Conflict

Voices of Dignity, a multimedia project by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), tells the story of Yoladis Zúñiga and Petronila Mendoza, two Colombian women who fled their homes after paramilitaries killed their husbands and raided their villages.

The project, released in late November 2012, includes three photogalleries and a 22-minute video which can be watched in full online.

Marta Martinez, producer of Voices of Dignity, wrote a guest post for Witness as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, where she explains:

Yoladis Zúñiga and Petronila Mendoza survived an attack of right-wing paramilitaries on their villages, in which women and girls were raped, homes burned and a number of people killed, including their husbands. The two women fled with their children to Baranquilla, a city on Colombia’s Atlantic coast, joining almost four million displaced by the civil war.

Yoladis Zúñiga

Yoladis Zúñiga. Photo by Camilo Aldana for ICTJ, used with permission.

Marta also highlights the intended message of Voices of Dignity:

As the government of Colombia enters new rounds of peace talks with leftist guerrillas Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), there has been much speculation on the prospects for sustainable peace. ICTJ’s research and comparative experience clearly show that sustainable peace cannot be reached without ensuring justice, accountability, and victims’ rights.

In the words of Maria Camila Moreno, head of ICTJ’s Colombia Office, “Victims are not numbers. They are people with flesh and blood, with great dignity, who have a clear view of the steps that Colombia must take to respond to their right to compensation.”

Petronila Mendoza

Petronila Mendoza. Photo by Camilo Aldana for ICTJ, used with permission.

Through the powerful testimonies of Yoladis and Petronila, Voices of Dignity provides an intimate look into the lives of the victims of Colombia's armed conflict. An article by ICTJ on Voices of Dignity adds:

In telling the story of Yoladis and Petronila, Voices of Dignity breaks the stereotype of women victims of conflict as passive actors in a transitioning society. Instead, it shows them as active participants and leaders; for their families and communities, they are not victims, but heroes.

Marta states that the goal of this multimedia project is to “reaffirm the fundamental rights of victims in Colombia and elsewhere: the rights to truth, acknowledgment, and redress.”

Voices of Dignity is available in Spanish [es] and will soon be available in Arabic.

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