During election periods and other national processes people belonging to opposing parties are subjected to horrific human rights violations; these violations are documented and publicised but the real stories of what happens to women are not told as much. From the 2008 election period there are many anecdotal reports of politically motivated violence against women, but the Government of National Unity (GNU) has not launched an investigation to these reports, especially reports of rape, although the Global Political Agreement states that perpetrators of violence should be brought to book.
In RAU’s focus group discussions we asked whether it is important for women to speak out about violations even 4 years after the violations occurred and the below are some of the responses we got:
- Violations must be talked about so that the victims can find peace
- It prevents the same from happening in the future especially if the perpetrators are arrested for the crimes
- Keeping quiet does not help in anyway, as you can’t get any assistance because no one knows what you need
- By sharing what happened to you can encourage another person to also speak out and get help.
Others however stated that there is no point in talking about past abuses because:
- The police do not investigate the cases if you belong to the ‘wrong’ political party
- The police themselves are involved in the violence
- The perpetrators mock you and taunt you saying how much worse things are going to happen in the next election
In most cases the women themselves do not want to talk about what happened to them. In addition to the above reasons it is too painful to relive the past; they stand to lose respect and status in communities and this is magnified when they have been victims of sexual violence because of the stigma associated with it. However there are women who have been brave enough to talk about their experiences with politically motivated violence; these women even named the perpetrators who are senior politicians, army officials, police officers and youth militia.
See below two documentaries that detail the stories of women who overcame their fear and spoke out;
These women have inspired many others who have heard their stories; they are no longer victims but survivors.