Colombian activists risk their lives to protect women from gang warfare

Women’s rights network hailed for their work in supporting citizens caught up in terrifying violence in Buenaventura

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Gloria Amparo lives every minute of her life with the knowledge that the gangsters who hold Colombia’s Pacific coastal region in thrall could kill her because she helps the women they have raped, the mothers whose sons they have chopped up, or the families they have displaced and tormented.

But it is not death that Amparo fears, despite the notorious brutality of these gangs, who traffic drugs and run extortion rackets in the port city of Buenaventura, governing every aspect of the population’s lives.

“[My biggest fear] is to die. Because then we won’t be able to serve. That’s it for me. There is so much to do,” says the 51-year-old member of Butterflies, or Mariposas, a women’s rights network that was awarded the annual Nansen Refugee award by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) last week.

Amparo’s fellow activist, Mery Medina, agrees. “We are all afraid, but also [our fear is] if they don’t try to kill us, they might use other methods to stop us continuing this work,” she says, citing the possibility of threats and intimidation.

Click here to read the article at The Guardian