Saturday, July 18, 2009

Truth and reconciliation

I wanted to share the photos of a mural I passed by that communicates the work and purpose of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, a forum modeled on those of South Africa and Rwanda that released its controversial report a few weeks ago.
In the first photo, we see quite graphically why the TRC was founded. There is an image of executions, rape, children being forced to affiliate with armed groups, violence against civilians and the burning of their villages. How it would feel to have been affected by some or all of these atrocities, and then seeing them graphically displayed, I can't imagine. All the same, the message is clear: this happened here and this process is a step towards making sure it doesn't happen here again.
In the second photo, we have another graphic depiction of sexual violence, this time -- through the process of the TRC -- leading to a very public resolution. First, a woman is being raped at gunpoint. An estimated three out of four women in Liberia are survivors of rape or sexual assault, so this image likely brings up a lot of emotion for many. Next, we see her dressed and reporting the matter to the Committee, who invite the perpetrator and the survivor to sit down together, which leads to him asking her forgiveness and -- only in some cases --prosecution.

Before I left New York, I was trained by the Sexual Assault and Violence Invention Program at Mount Sinai to be a New York State certified sexual assault and intimate partner violence crisis counsellor. I volunteered at emergency rooms around the city, advocating for health and psychosocial services for survivors presenting in their Emergency Departments. I know that work will inform what I do here, but looking at the scale of things, it's hard to know where to even begin.

1 comment:

  1. To have so many women suffering the trauma of rape must have dramatically changed Liberian society and interactions between men and women especially. There must be a lot of need for healing.


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