Witness Reports

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

In a study by Denov and Maclure, girls who had survived the war report the pain they endured. One interviewee describes the physical consequences of being raped at a young age:

“The more senior men had the power to say ‘this [girl] is mine, this one is mine.’ After they captured women, they would rape them. I was raped the moment they captured me at 12 years old … and I bled and bled. … I could not walk. The man who raped me later carried me on his back.”

Another interviewee in the same study gives a snapshot of how frequent the rapes were:

“We were used as sex slaves. Whenever they wanted to have sexual intercourse with us, they took us away forcefully and brought us back when they finished with us. Sometimes, other officers took us up as soon as we were being finished with and subsequent ones were particularly very painful. … I don’t even know who might have been the father of my child.”

Human Rights Watch reports the testimony of the testimony of R.T., who was about 16 when she was raped by 10 RUF rebels in the forest in January 1997:

“I was hiding in the bush with my parents and two older women when the RUF found our hiding place. I was the only young woman and the RUF accused me of having an SLA husband. I was still a virgin. I had only just started my periods and recently gone through secret society. There were ten rebels, including four child soldiers, armed with two RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and AK-47s. The rebels did not use their real names and wore ski masks so only their eyes were visible. The rebels said that they wanted to take me away. My mother pleaded with them, saying that I was her only child and to leave me with her. The rebels said that ‘If we do not take your daughter, we will either rape or kill her.’ The rebels ordered my parents and the two other women to move away. Then they told me to undress. I was raped by the ten rebels, one after the other. They lined up, waiting for their turn and watched while I was being raped vaginally and in my anus. One of the child combatants was about twelve years. The three other child soldiers were about fifteen. The rebels threatened to kill me if I cried.
My parents, who could hear what was happening, cried but could do nothing to protect me. I was bleeding a lot from my vagina and anus and was in so much pain. My mother washed me in warm water and salt but I bled for three days. I can no longer control my bladder or bowels as I was torn below… I had an operation in 2000 but it did not work. Before I got a catheter in 2001, I had no friends, as I smelled too bad. I am still in pain and have a problem with vaginal discharge. I also have nightmares and feel discouraged.”