2009, Lydia Cacho
Lydia Cacho is a journalist, author, feminist and human rights activist. She has spoken out against the abuse of women in Mexico, using the unsolved murders in Ciudad Juárez as a call to action against the failure to bring justice to perpetrators of violence against women. Cacho founded Ciam Cancún, a shelter for battered women and children, providing refuge for countless individuals.
Lydia Cacho was born in Mexico City in 1963 to a Mexican father and a French mother. She settled in Cancún, Mexico in 1985, where she began working at the newspaper Novedades de Cancún. She has published hundreds of articles, a book of poetry, a novel, several books of essays on human rights and other nonfiction works. She speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese and English.
A fearless and courageous defender of the rights of women and children in Mexico, Cacho routinely risks her life to shelter women from abuse and challenge powerful government and business leaders who profit from child prostitution and pornography. Cacho is the founder of Ciam Cancún, a shelter for battered women and children. Her work with women and children in Mexico has been extremely effective in terms of rescue and rehabilitation of the countless individuals who seek assistance from the shelter. She has spoken out against the abuse of women in Mexico, citing the unsolved murders in Ciudad Juárez as a call to action against the failure to bring justice to perpetrators of violence against women. Journalist Marianne Pearl has described Cacho as “a woman of great strength and courage…who is deeply committed to ethical journalism and the advancement of human rights in Mexico for the long haul.”
Her writings have resulted in shining the spotlight on issues that are normally not challenged. In her 2005 book, Los Demonios del Edén (Demons of Eden), Cacho accused a prominent businessman of protecting a child pornographer, which resulted in her illegal arrest. While in jail she was beaten and abused. She became the first woman to bring a case to the Mexican Supreme Court; the court ruled that the content of her book was truthful.
Confronted with countless credible threats against her life, Cacho has refused offers of asylum from the United States, France and Spain. She will not leave her country and abandon the women and children she has dedicated her life to protecting. An April 2007 Washington Post article described Cacho as “one of Mexico’s most celebrated and imperiled journalists.” The article went on to explain that she “is a target in a country where at least seventeen journalists have been killed in the past five years and that trailed only Iraq in media deaths during 2006. Do-gooders and victims want to meet her, want to share their stories. Bad guys—well, they want her in a coffin.” Dead or alive, Lydia is committed to changing Mexico so that impunity for gross human rights violations will not be a part of the norm in her country.
Cacho has received many awards for her work as a humanitarian and a journalist, including the State Journalists Prize in 2000, the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women and Children’s Rights in 200, and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Freedom of Expression Award in 2008. The Ginetta Sagan Amnesty International Award committee said of her: “It is also worth mentioning that her work has made her highly visible. Despite the many achievements and accolades that come with such recognition, Lydia remains deeply humbled and genuine. She is rooted in her community and no amount of recognition will ever change this. We have seen this firsthand.”
For more information about Ciam Cancún, please visit the Ciam Cancún website.