At a glance: Guinea

Civil unrest in Guinea leads to rapes of women and children

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Guinea/2007/Baro
A UNICEF counsellor talks to a six-year-old girl who was raped by a 27-year-old man in Conakry, Guinea, during the recent violence there.

By Fatoumata Thiam Diallo

The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child is the theme of the 51st Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women now under way until 9 March 2007. Here is one in a series of related stories.

CONAKRY, Guinea, 5 March 2007 – When Adelaid’s mother had to leave Conakry last month to forage for kola nuts, she left her in the care of an uncle to protect her from the violence that had overtaken Guinea’s capital city.

But as Adelaid (not her real name) was playing in the neighbourhood one day, a man she knew lured her to his house and raped her, threatening to kill her if she told anyone.

Adelaid is six years old.

‘A very serious issue’

After a nationwide strike was called here in January, rioting and looting ensued, along with a violent government crackdown. Now that the strike is over, the country is tallying the damage. Some 120 people died, 1,600 were injured and an untold number of rapes were perpetrated by armed soldiers and out-of-work civilians.

Adelaid was not the only girl with a terrible story like this. Twenty rapes – some targeting other young girls – have been reported to the UNICEF-supported non-governmental organization AGUIAS (Association guinéenne des assistantes sociales) in the past two months. So far, few of the victims have come back for counselling and further care.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Guinea/2007/Baro
Staff members from the non-governmental child protection organization AGUIAS meet with staff from UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières in Conakry, Guinea.

“Rape is becoming a big and frequent and very serious issue in Guinea,” said UNICEF Representative in Guinea Mohamed Cissa. The perpetrators are not only soldiers as they generally were in the past, he said; instead, more and more of these crimes involve family members, “and that is something that is very new in this society.”

 

Counselling in a safe house

Weeks after her ordeal, Adelaid was staying in a secure house run by AGUIAS. Her roommate was a 15-year-old girl who had been raped by four adults during the recent crisis. A 13-year-old girl in the next room had a similar story.

The girls are all now receiving counselling provided by AGUIAS. “They have to be taken a little bit out of society after the rape for them to recover, and also to get treatment” for sexually transmitted diseases, said Mr. Cissa.

Created in 1999, AGUIAS focuses on issues of child trafficking, domestic violence, child abuse and gender-based violence, all of which worsen during crises. Volunteers from the organization conduct outreach into communities to encourage the reporting of sexual violence. They also provide victims with contact information for assistance.

AGUIAS has worked with UNICEF for the past six years on a partnership to treat 250 children who have been abused. Once the children recover, they can be returned to their families and communities. AGUIAS also offers vocational training to help older children recover from abuse and resume their lives.


 

 

Audio

5 March 2007:
UNICEF Representative in Guinea Mohamed Cissa talks about efforts to help girls who were raped during the country’s recent violence.
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