Linda Loaiza: Why is her case so resonant and important for the International Community?

On February 6, 2018, in the framework of the hearings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Linda Loaiza’s case was finally carried out. This iconic case of violence against women was plagued by irregularities, impunity and gender prejudice. But unlike many others, this is the case of a woman that couldn’t be silenced by torture, sexual slavery or state inoperability in her quest for justice. And now, 17 years after she was brutally beaten and kidnaped, we ask ourselves; why is this case so resonant and important for the international community?

Firstly, Linda’s case will be the first one related to gender violence in Venezuela that will be judged by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. If the decision fails in her favor, it will be a milestone in the history of violence against women in the Latin American country. This would mean not only a breakthrough in terms of gender, but also the hope that adequate training will prevail for this type of gender cases.

Secondly, and in a perfectly reflection of this case, we are learning that in order to understand crimes against women, State entities must provide an adequate response with a gender approach that protects the integrity and the rights of women. That is why, based on the testimonies of the hearing’s experts, it was concluded that it is necessary to implement a protocol with a multidisciplinary approach in order to support victims, provide the necessary containment and, above all, demand from the institutions a work with an approach in gender perspective.

The gender inequality and the approach that the State authorities had with Linda did not go unnoticed before the Court. The lack of action and discrimination suffered by Linda was established throughout the entire hearing. And at the Court, it was that same gender inequality that drew attention to Judge Humberto Sierra Porto. The judge had the accurate observation that in Linda’s case, the sentence was going to be issued by a court that -ironically- was mostly integrated by men. An inequality in which the GQUAL campaign has been working to eradicate this.

Since the initiative of the GQUAL campaign, the aim is to break gender stereotypes by promoting more women to international tribunals. The words of Judge Sierra Porto not only reflected the compromise of the GQUAL campaign, but also reflected the commitment assumed by another Court Judge, Roberto Caldas. On 2017, Judge Caldas committed with the GQUAL campaign which pursuits the implementation of the principles of non-discrimination, equality and gender equity and geographical representation in the election of commissioners and judges.

Linda’s case shows us that the fight for equality and equity rights still generates a debate, which is much necessary for the times we are living. But more important, this hearing showed us that she is not alone. By listening to her story and her experience, we can identify ourselves and empower each other in the quest for justice. And that is why from the GQUAL campaign we continue working for the sake of equality and gender equity.-