Article published on WMSpeech Project on April 22, 2016.
In May 2012, just before the anniversary of the ruling of the Constitutional Court that legalized abortion in Colombia in 2006, I was working as a communications officer in the offices of the NGO Women’s Link Worldwide in Bogotá. Its program director, Monica Roa, had filed the 2006 Constitutional Claim that led to the court’s ruling. Roa and another co-worker were working late at the office that night, preparing for an upcoming meeting of activists. Suddenly the building went dark and they heard two shots. Roa felt pieces of glass bouncing on her hair. An unknown car drove away, its tires screeching against the pavement.
Part of my job at the time was to monitor social media. In the days before the incident, online misogynistic abuse had been more aggressive than usual. Most of the trolling directed at us on social networks appeared to be coming from social conservatives. For example, a Twitter account, self-described as part of the extreme right, had created a meme of Roa dressed “as Hitler.” One of their leaders is currently Columbia’s “Procurador,” the Inspector General who has openly used his office to restrict women’s rights. Highly active right-wing extremists not only focused on social rights, but were a militarist right wing that loudly sympathized with powerful paramilitary groups.