[13]25: In the beginning was the word. COLOMBIA
The testimonies of these 13 women from different parts of Colombia strikingly reveal how the country’s ongoing armed conflict has affected the bodies, spirits and lives of its women and girls. It is an effort to make the conditions these women cope with visible, reflecting their faces, their words and the places where they currently live, and showing the fear and pain that Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict has made them endure. In these pages, 13 indigenous, urban, peasant, artisan and Afro-descendant women weave a tapestry of women’s history in times of bitter confrontations.

Here are words echoing what it has meant for these 13 women to become victims of a war that is not their war, which they so often cannot even begin to understand. Here are 13 trails traced by bare feet, mapping out the emotional paths that forced displacement impels those it ravages to follow. Its victims flee for fear of those waging the war; those who lurk at every corner and turn the country’s landscape into a bastion of death, pillage and desolation.

Each woman chose the place in which she wanted to be photographed, as a symbol of her connection to her surroundings, in the midst of a landscape violated by the horror that legal and illegal actors alike generate. The very existence of our Project bears witness to the fact that the Colombian State has failed to protect women from the gender violence common in conflict areas. These 13 women have had to regain and rebuild their vital space on their own.

The following testimonies also show us how courageous these 13 women have been, in their struggle to hold onto life itself. They know all about suffering and are haunted by the experiences they have had to endure, but they are also capable of being hopeful once more. Little by little, they gather together with others, seeking ways to repair the ravages inflicted on the population; seeking ways to make their voices heard and obtain justice.

We urge you to circulate these testimonies through the squares and streets of our cities and towns, so that we never forget peace cannot be possible unless we make sure women’s lives are honoured and respected.
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