Since the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) began hearing testimonies on sexual violence, harrowing tales have been narrated about how some of our womenfolk were used and abused by people who were sworn to protect them.
Sexual violence is one of the most (if not the most) heinous crimes that can be perpetrated against another human being. It is even worse when it is visited on a woman. It totally takes away one’s humanity and leaves one traumatized and battered.
It is for this reason that the International Community regards it as a crime against humanity. In war-torn areas, rebels and armed forces in many parts of the world have been accused of using sexual violence to control or subdue people.
In countries where populations are largely conservative, the stigma and shame it carries with it makes it even more difficult to fight against. In such places, women and girls are always reluctant to come forward and narrate their ordeals for fear of backlash and recrimination against them.
This type of society blames and therefore shames the victim while emboldening the criminal perpetrators. In this way, impunity is encouraged and this serves to put fire on the scourge.
Now though there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as some women and girls have mustered the courage to come out in the open and narrate their ordeals.
The few cases at the TRRC so far have opened the floodgates, as it were, and it is hoped that other victims will be inspired by these to also come forward and testify about their woes.
There is no doubt that survivors of sexual violence have gone through hell and back in the past few years and have lost a lot of their self-esteem and sometimes, means of livelihood. The damage done to them is irreparable.
It is therefore hoped that these innocent and brave victims will be among those who will be compensated handsomely so that at least it can serve as a consolation.
True, no amount of money can ever change what happened to them but it will serve as a motivation for them to go on, seeing that the nation has not left them in the lurch.