An activist's safe space | #speakup barometer | Colombia | DW | 20.02.2019
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#speakup barometer | Colombia

An activist's safe space

The Internet is a useful tool to advance the cause of activists, although there are still several aspects that could be improved.

Barometer Kolumbien Perla Toro Castano

Perla Toro Castaño responsible for the digital activities of Comfama, a social enterprise in Medellín

Perla Toro Castaño (33) is responsible for the digital activities of Comfama, a social enterprise in Medellín, as well as working as a freelance journalist. As an activist and a feminist with a focus of LGBTI* issues, the Internet plays an important role in her life. But the Internet as a safe space is under threat.

"I use the Internet for my activism in many ways: First of all, it is a meeting place for me, a place full of possibilities to defend our rights. That is also what I tell the participants of my training workshops – women, transfeminists and advocates for the LGBTI community. Technologically, it has become quite easy: Medellín is a very well-connected city with easily available high-speed mobile Internet. However, there is also censorship by the government, which influences what is written through the distribution of advertising money. Being online is especially harsh for female journalists and activists. They often experience violence, threats and harassment – which can radiate into the offline world. We have to talk more about digital rights, like anonymity and privacy. These are the issues which should be the center of the discussions concerning the Internet and not what kind of new gadgets there are on the market."


The #speakup barometer is a DW Akademie project that examines the connection between digital participation, freedom of expression and access to information. Learn more at