in Côte d’Ivoire, slow healing after rape

in Côte d'Ivoire, slow healing after rape

in Côte d’Ivoire, slow healing after rape

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Officially, in 2020 there were 822 cases of rape and 152 cases of sexual assault across the country. Statistics largely underestimated, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). And behind these statistics is a very harsh reality: complex care and a society that is still distant from the victims. Meeting in Bonoua with Cynthia, a young woman who is rebuilding little by little, almost ten years after the attack, supported by her husband.

From our special correspondent in Bonoua,

The events occurred in 2013. Cynthia was 24 years old at the time. With the bag on her shoulder, the young woman arrives home from work when she finds herself trapped by a group of men who rape and beat her. Then it’s the black screen. When she wakes up, Cynthia is paralyzed… lying in a hospital bed.

I was in a coma for three months, in the Yopougon hospital.Cynthia explains. After the coma, I woke up. He had lost the use of speech. After nine months of hospitalization, I returned home. It is in the family that the memory began to return a little “. Cynthia has to start almost everything from scratch: learn to speak, to get up, to hold a cup…

For the past two years, Cynthia has benefited from almost complete medical follow-up at the Don Orione center in Bonoua, located about forty miles east of Abidjan. This center was created in 1979 by Father Angelo Girolami to support people with disabilities.

A slow job of physical reconstruction

As of now, this non-profit structure treats nearly 300 pathologies, with a team of specialists. Like Rémus Koffi: in twelve years of experience, this physiotherapist had not yet received a patient in this state. “ When Cynthia came, we did an assessment, to see all the deficiencies that she has at the level of the whole body, since she has tetraparalysis. This means that all four of her limbs were paralyzed, reminds the physiotherapist. We did “mobilizations”: the “mobilizations” consisted of taking each member, making movements, we raised them… we bent, we extended… hands, arms. It was really painful. There were times when he cried. She cried a lot. But that didn’t stop us from getting the job done. “.

Cynthia’s progress is slow. But the young woman, who is 34 years old today, remains determined. “ At first, he was in a wheelchair. Then I had a daughter. Five years later, I got pregnant again. I moved with a cane. And after that, I started using a walker. It’s slow… but it goes a little, a little. When things go wrong she addsI look at my children, I also look at my husband and this gives me strength to be able to go back to being like before, to take better care of them “.

Her husband was her first support. Shortly after her attack, Achim Guela Flan held on day and night, despite society’s increasingly distant gaze. There’s no way he’s rejecting his wife. “ He was in a deep coma for three months. When she woke up she was screaming [de douleur, NDLR]. She screamed for at least two months. Ten years ago, then she was twenty : They told me no, you are not going to spend all your time, you have to leave it somewhere and then come and get some money. But it wasn’t the money… I tell myself that it’s my presence that will make her dream… That is, when she wakes up from the coma, the first person she’s going to want to see will be me. So it had to be there. »

An NGO supporting women victims of violence

Cynthia would now like to support other women victims of violence. A few months ago, she and her husband created an NGO that already groups 217 people. Among them, many other victims in search of moral support. But the goal is above all to talk to young people to prevent this type of aggression from happening again. “ We want to start at the root first: tell the youngest that women are not drumsemphasizes Achim Guela Flan. We must not hit her as we want. We must not abuse it. First we will start with consciousness. She will talk to them. It’s a mission. There is life after rape. »

Nine years after the events, Cynthia still does not know the identity and motives of her executioners: despite a complaint filed after her attack, she has no news of her judicial file.

►Listen also: Great Report – Ivory Coast: sexual violence at the university, the urgency of breaking omertá

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