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ESVC: children of war relate their stories

13 June 2014

ESVC/FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE

Nightmare: An animation entitled "Don't believe the thumbnail, this video is the stuff of nightmares", commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, shows the impact of sexual violence in conflict (watch below) 

Nightmare: An animation entitled "Don't believe the thumbnail, this video is the stuff of nightmares", commissioned by the Foreign ...

THE testimony of child victims of sexual violence from around the world was the centrepoint of one discussion at the conference's fringe.

Co-hosted by the charity War Child, and Mark Simmonds, a Foreign Office Minister, the event looked at what more could be done to protect children from sexual exploitation.

One of the survivors' stories came from Polline, who was abducted from her home in northern Uganda aged 14, and spent seven years asa captive of a rebel group in the bush.

"I suffered sexual violence. I became pregnant, but I lost my baby," she said. "I suffered through two weeks of labour pains with no hospital to go to, and then my baby died. We had no hospitals, and had to deliver children with gunshots all around us in the bush.

"I saw people being killed and women being raped. Girls being forced to get married to men older than them. I was beaten several times. I saw myself as nothing, as a nobody."

Another testimony asked what happens to those children who are born after rape. Lajla Damon was adopted at birth by a British couple, and raised in the UK, but only found out about the circumstances of her adoption much later.

"My mother was raped in a concentration camp during the start of the Bosnian war. The impact of sexual violence meant she couldn't look at me, and would not want to see me in hospital."

When she was older, Lajla's parents showed her a video they had made of them talking to her birth mother in Bosnia. She said: "My birth mother was talking about the ordeal that had happened to her.

"She said 'If I held that baby I would strangle her.' It shows the breakdown and the fractures that sexual violence in conflict can cause. I still don't fully understand it. It was hard to take."

Both Polline and Lajla said that they had come not just to tell their stories, but to demand action was taken so that no one else would have to suffer.

Watch "Don't believe the thumbnail, this video is the stuff of nightmares" below (Warning: may not be suitable for under-16s)

 

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