My Body a War Zone

"My body: A War zone" Enables Colombian rescuers and survivors to share their stories

Rape is often treated as an inevitable part of war, and its victims as collateral damage. Sexual violence is used for military or political advantage, and as a way to undermine the fabric of communities. Fear and shame are common amongst victims of rape, a perception typically reinforced by communities that shun and punish survivors- including in Colombia.

The My Body: A War Zone exhibit is intended to push back against a tradition of fear and silence. The project gives survivors and rescuers a forum to claim their stories, and express their experiences.

The project began with a circle of 11 Colombian women. Each participant mentors five women, who go on to become mentors themselves. Ultimately, these women built a large support system for victims of sexual violence during the Colombian Civil War.

In 2014, My Body: A War Zone traveled throughout Colombia as part of a nationwide gender-based violence campaign. The exhibit opened in June in Bogota in cooperation with United National Population Council and Universidad de los Ande. It traveled  to the city where the women are from in Santa Marta. The project displayed sexual abuse survivors’ images and testimonies in affected communities. PROOF’s project gave women another forum to claim their stories as their own, and speak out to their national community.

My Body: A War Zone shows images and testimonies of women exposed to sexual abuse during the armed conflict in Colombia, beside the stories of women from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, and Congo. By displaying images of these women from different regions side by side, the exhibit emphasizes that women’s rights, and initiative to support each other, transcends cultural and geographical boundaries.