This letter is written for Amnesty International’s annual Write #4Rights campaign which the Interfaith Youth Activist blog has pledged to be a part of until December 16th! Find out more here!
Sr. Presidente Santos
Presidente de la República
Carrera 9 No. 7-26
Dear President Santos,
I write to you out of deep concern for the valiant Monica Roa, a human rights activist and the Program Director of Women’s Link Worldwide (WLW). She and her colleagues have been subject of various attacks and intimidation techniques for their work on the advancement of women’s rights to safe and illegal abortion services in Columbia. They are continually at risk as they go about promoting their cause and no progress has been made in the investigation of previous attacks or the threats against them.
The Procurator Delegate for the Defense of Infancy, Adolescence and Family Rights also filed a criminal complaint against Mónica for libelous slander. Mónica has not yet been officially notified of the complaint and cannot respond to the allegations against her. She has also been publicly stigmatized and even accused of genocide.
I urge you to ensure that the attacks against Mónica and her colleagues are fully investigated so that those found responsible are brought to justice, and to see to it that the criminal complaint against her is dropped if it is based solely on her legitimate work as a human rights defender. Regardless of your opinion on abortion, Mónica deserves your respect as well as your protection. She is innocent until legitimate claims prove her guilty. She has the right to speak up for her own beliefs and those who attempt to silence her voice must be confronted.
I’m a 16-year-old interfaith youth blogger, and within the interfaith community, every person of faith or non- faith is invited to voice their own opinion on a matter, (which invites communities with differences to focus on positive and transformational commonalities) and a similar dialogue should be encouraged in this issue. Those who oppose Mónica and the WLW’s efforts should do so vocally and non-violently. Please encourage your nation to work together on these issues without using hate and violence.
I also call on you to publicly recognize the legitimacy of the work on sexual and reproductive rights that are being carried out by WLW and other women’s rights organizations in order to discourage the stigmatization surrounding such work. These women are brave and their protests are merited. You may not agree with their position but, they are the voice of half the nation; they deserve to be heard; they deserve to be acknowledged.
Additionally, I believe these women voices are absolutely justified. Women deserve the right to make decisions regarding their own body such as abortion, especially when it endangers their life. Young girls need to be educated about sex in order to make more thoughtful decisions about their life and lower their risk of needing an abortion later in life. Women need not suffer needlessly because of a happenstance pregnancy easily avoided by access to contraception. In the home, many women lack the power to defend themselves, and such legislation could offer support and protection for them.
Finally, I remind you of the need to effectively implement the Constitutional Court’s jurisprudence on the decriminalization of abortion and to fulfill their obligations regarding the protection of women’s and girls’ human and reproductive rights. The WLW succeeded in passing their case, and, just as any other passing case, it must be implemented and enforced. The protection of women’s and girls’ human rights, including their right to sex education, access to contraception, and access to safe abortion cannot wait.
I look forward to hearing your response.
Ambassador to the United States:
Ambassador Gabriel Silva Luján, Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 387 8338
Fax: 1 202 232 8643