Emma Bolshia helps Bolivian victims recover from torture and its second trauma, silence

December 9, 2015

In the series “10 December, 10 Defenders” OMCT published on 4 December 2015 the profile of Emma Bolshia Bravo who helps Bolivian victims recover from torture and its second trauma, silence.


Considering the magnitude of the psychological effects on the victim, the fear it generates within society, and the traumas transmitted to the following generations, torture causes irreparable damage,” says Emma Bolshia Bravo. “That’s why prevention of torture is crucial.

Trained in psychology and curative education, Emma committed herself to fighting torture after learning that her father had died prematurely at the age of 50 because of the torture undergone as a revolutionary activist. Having, as a child, lived through the imprisonment of both her parents, Emma cannot avoid crying – to this day – when evoking those painful early memories.She is now director of Instituto de Terapia e Investigacion sobre las secuelas de la tortura y la violencia estatal (ITEI), the only rehabilitation centre in Bolivia focused on the biopsychological consequences of torture both for individuals and society. Some 14 years after its foundation, ITEI leads a coalition of nine anti-torture organizations, and has contributed to raising social awareness about the social and psychological effects of torture. ITEI’s work led to the Bolivian Government’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2006.

Torture in Bolivia ­- especially against union representatives, members of indigenous populations or of indigent communities, peasants, sex workers, and LGBTI individuals – has been practiced both during military dictatorships and under the democratically elected constitutional government, even recently. What is more, only about a quarter of the victims who denounced political violence and human rights violations committed under the authoritarian military regime from 1964 to 1982 have obtained justice through the reparation process that ended in 2012, Amnesty International reported.

Only massive action will be able to eradicate torture in our country,” says Emma, arguing it requires a large social, cultural battle to denounce and eradicate impunity and put an end to the general public’s ignorance and indifference to the issue.


Source: Bolivia: Meet Emma Bolshia who helps Bolivian victims recover from torture and its second trauma, silence / December 4, 2015 / Links / Human rights defenders / OMCT

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