Linda Loaiza López Soto was 18 years old and lived with her younger sister, Ana Secilia López in Caracas. On March 27th 2001, she was kidnapped on the way out of her residence and, pressured with death threats, held hostage for three months. During her captivity, Linda was sexually abused and seriously assaulted, suffering psychological and physical injuries.
Immediately after her disappearance, her sister Ana Secilia, reported Linda’s absence, but the authorities did not file the complaint, claiming that Linda and her aggressor were partners and that the best thing to do was waiting. Despite many other attempts, the authorities did not admit any complaint in relation to Linda Loaiza’s disappearance.
On July 19th 2001, Linda managed to escape. The injuries received during her captivity were of such intensity that she had to be operated on numerous times. As a result, she was hospitalized for over a year for facial reconstruction and other surgical procedures.
During the course of the investigation, Linda Loaiza was revictimized by a judicial process full of gender stereotypes, irregularities, delays and even corruption of evidence. Added to a total of 37 deferrals and 10 inhibitions by justice personnel who did not wish to pursue the case, the criminal prosecution of the man responsible for kidnapping and torture of Linda remains on appeal. On November 11th 2007, Linda, her family and lawyer, presented the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Linda’s case exemplifies the situation of impunity that prevails in complaints filed by thousands of Venezuelan women, who are victims of sexual and gender abuse. In Venezuela, according to the Annual Report of the Public Ministry of 2014, from the 70,763 complaints of violence against women, only 0.7% have made it to trial. Moreover, her case underscores the institutional violence and double victimization that victims of sexual violence in the region suffer in their pursuit ofustice.
Fourteen surgeries and fifteen years after the events, the IACHR informed Linda and her representatives, on November 2nd 2016, that her case had been submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.