Witness Reports

Liberia

Map Of Liberia Iii

Witness testimonies to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, both in the diaspora and in Liberia, gave harrowing accounts of sexualized violence. Rape as a form of torture and often done in concert with other extreme abuses was common in the civil war. 

A woman told the commission:

In 2003, I was living in Caldwell with my husband. On June 1, Taylor’s boys (NPFL) took over. … Rebels wanted our car and took it. They accused me of lying about my husband being Grebo. They stabbed me in the breast and dragged my husband outside and began to cut him. They forced me to carry his private parts and then they cut off his arms. They caught me and four of them raped me. I was three months pregnant and am still having pain from the rapes.

The report found that young girls also experienced rape at the hands of militias:

I was 8 years old when the war came in July 1990. My mother, brother, and sister were in Grand Gedeh visiting a friend. Rebels knocked on the door and my father went out and was killed. A rebel boy came into the house and raped me. I have had problems ever since.

Militias used rape to violate social taboos, which included violating older woman, or raping women in front of family members, the report found:

In March 1990 … [an NPFL rebel] came to my house and said that I should bring the gold I have. I told him please, sir, I don’t have any more gold. When I told him this, he said I should take off my clothes so his boys can have sex with me. As old as I was, his boys (three of them) had sex with me. My husband could not stand it and so he rushed to them and that’s how he was shot dead.

The report showed that pregnant women were also targeted for torture:

The woman was at the end of her pregnancy when a group of rebels came to her house and demanded their car. The woman’s husband told the rebels that they could not have the car because the woman was about to go into labor any time now and he needed it to take her to the hospital to deliver her baby. The rebels then took the woman, cut her open from the breast bone down to her pelvic bone while she was still alive, bet on the sex of the baby, and then cut the baby out of her uterus. The rebels then proceeded to cut the baby into three pieces and discarded the remains to the side. They then shot her and her husband to death.