Trigger Warning: this story contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to people who have similar experiences.
"One day Fatou a young mother of three children, came to us. She had been working in the fields, her small children alongside her, when a group of armed men appeared. Everyone fled but the men caught Fatou, and raped her. That was 2013. Then in September 2015 she was at home when her house was attacked. She was taken with some other women and children to another house, where the attackers killed the men and raped the women. Later she managed to escape and was able to reach Bangui, where she was referred to us”, explains Sylvie. Sylvie and her colleague Agnes are too often witness to stories like these, of women raped several times during their lifetime, and of terrorised and traumatised children.
The assaults occur in situations of extreme violence
Says Sylvie, "Here, in the context of armed conflict, rape is less an issue of sexual impulse than it is a weapon of war. The assaults happen in full view of the community, the family, and the children, in between the murders and the houses set alight." Médecins Sans Frontières opened its sexual violence care program in Bangui General Hospital in July 2014 to kick-start a response to the needs of victims, where there was none. The medical team also undertakes outreach activities in health centres in PK5 district and M’Poko and Castor camps. A free ambulance service has also been established.