img src="http://www1.essence.com/dyn/asset.image/relationships/lonely-400x200.jpg" class="photoCenter">The people of the West African nation of Guinea continue to struggle with the horrible trauma of a deadly military crackdown on a pro-democracy rally last month. NPR writer Ofeibea Quist-Arcton got up close and personal with some of the women who have been devasted by the recent violence in Guinea. Quist-Arcton met with about 20 Guinean women to hear about their experiences on September 28—the day Guinean soldiers trained their guns on pro-democracy protesters and then allegedly unleashed a brutal wave of rapes.
Their attackers had turned the Guinean capital, Conakry, into a combat zone; sexual violence became a weapon of war to try to silence and control women. The troops allegedly attacked women in and around the stadium where they had gathered to hear their political leaders denounce Guinea's military government.
All rape is traumatic, writes Quist-Arcton, but when the alleged crime takes place in public, outdoors, with mobile phones and cameras on hand to record the violations, the humiliation must be excruciating. Women of all ages were targets; from young students to grandmothers. The troops allegedly used guns, bayonets, knives and other weapons to rip their garments off.
Guinean women have a history of being assertive in civil society, a vocal lobby speaking out and challenging successive authoritarian regimes and toxic military governments. These courageous women have one thing in common; they are determined that those who made them suffer—those who stripped off their clothes and stripped them of their dignity—must be punished.—BB