The Right to Voice: sexual violence survivors from Colombia tell their stories


“I have thrown out fear; something enlightened me and encouraged me to show my face. I would like for all those who have been denied the right to justice, like me, to speak up.”

Siris del Carmen Rentería, a survivor of sexual violence   © Archivo Fundación Círculo de Estudios:

Siris del Carmen Rentería, from Colombia, is a survivor of sexual violence. Her story is one of 16 that is being told in a photo exhibition at the Palais des Nations in Geneva this week.

It is estimated that the ongoing internal armed conflict in Colombia has led to more than 27,000 victims of sexual violence. The portraits of 16 of these victims depict men and women who describe themselves in a range of ways: as human rights defenders, as social leaders, as mothers, or as entrepreneurs.

They aim to show that a road exists towards recovery and hope, and to encourage other victims not to remain silent.

The exhibition is hosted by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, in collaboration with the Fundación Círculo de Estudios, a Colombian organisation that works to provide psychosocial care to sexual violence victims. It also documents and formally files complaints and declarations on victims’ behalf.  

On 3 April, a public panel entitled “Surviving Torture and Fighting Stigma: the road to recovery for victims of sexual and gender-based violence” will take place from 11am to 12.30 pm in Room VII at the Palais des Nations. Siris del Carmen Rentería, alongside Nhora Lucía Álvarez Borras, Director of Fundación Circulo de Estudios, will share the stories behind the photographs.

The exhibition runs until 5 April 2019 in the “Angle Aile AC” room, in front of the Delegate Bar, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture awards grants to civil society organisations to provide medical, psychological, legal and social services to
victims of torture and their families. In Colombia, Fundación Círculo de Estudios is implementing one of the 155 projects awarded by the Fund in 2019 in 80 countries worldwide.

1 April 2019


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