Ces témoignages de réfugié(e)s, déplacé(e)s internes et autres personnes relevant du Mandat du UNHCR ont été collectés avec leur consentement éclairé. Survivant(e)s de différentes formes de VBG, dans la région d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre, leurs prénoms ainsi que leur pays d’origine ont été modifiés. Les photos sont illustratives.

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Mali : Sadia's testimony - Rape

Mali : Sadia’s testimony – #SexualViolence #Armed Conflict #IDPs

My name is Sadia and I am 28 years old.
I was abducted by an armed group and I was detained. During this time, I was raped but I don't know my attacker.
After 19 days, I was released. For fear of further kidnappings in our village, my husband decided that we had to flee to another less dangerous locality where we have family but still in Mali.
I was ashamed of what happened to me. I no longer ate and I no longer slept. I only lived for my children. I can’t stand to see men in uniform anymore. I had pain in my lower abdomen. My husband does not know that I was raped. He keeps asking me what’s wrong but I’m too scared to speak up and he leaves me.
During a talk, a woman spoke about services that help women with their well-being and health. The women’s group decided to invite the NGO agent to participate in their next tontine meeting. After the meeting, I was able to approach the agent to ask for help with my pain. The agent directed me to a health center I could go to and took over the medication. I went there with a woman from the tontine. I was not comfortable with people seeing me with the agent.
Talking with the agent has helped me a lot. I also received money that I was able to use in the tontine to be able to generate income. The agent continued to help me often, hearing from me. By God’s grace, I am better. I sleep better.

Mali : Tenin's testimony - Child marriage

Mali: Tenin’s testimony – #Forced Marriage #GirlNotWife #Rape #PrecoceMarriage #IDPs

My name is Tenin and I am 16 years old. My father passed away when I was a child, leaving my mother alone with 4 children. I couldn’t continue school. Our village was attacked several times and we had to flee to the city. The city is filled with armed groups. Life was not easy because we are very poor.
2 years ago, a neighbor asked my mother for my hand and gave a dowry. The imam married us. I have a 1 year old baby.
Since giving birth, I still had severe pain and could not produce milk. My pain kept me from doing most of the household chores. My husband was not happy, he often brutalized me and hit me. He eventually divorced me and I had to move back to my mother's house.
My mother was not happy. One day, my neighbor mentioned services for women and children’s welfare. I took advantage of a visit to the health center for my baby to contact the service. After talking with the lady from the NGO, she brought me to a nurse who told me I had fistula. The NGO helped me convince my mother that I have to do the treatment. They also gave us some cash so that my mother could start a small business. My mom treats me well now. I don’t want to be separated from my mother. The lady calls me often and listens to me. She put me in touch with an association that helped me get back to school. I am grateful and happy now.
I was ashamed of what happened to me. I no longer ate and I no longer slept. I only lived for my children. I can’t stand to see men in uniform anymore. I had pain in my lower abdomen. My husband does not know that I was raped. He keeps asking me what’s wrong but I’m too scared to speak up and he leaves me.
During a talk, a woman spoke about services that help women with their well-being and health. The women’s group decided to invite the NGO agent to participate in their next tontine meeting. After the meeting, I was able to approach the agent to ask for help with my pain. The agent directed me to a health center I could go to and took over the medication. I went there with a woman from the tontine. I was not comfortable with people seeing me with the agent.
Talking with the agent has helped me a lot. I also received money that I was able to use in the tontine to be able to generate income. The agent continued to help me often, hearing from me. By God’s grace, I am better. I sleep better.

Mali : Aicha's testimony - Denial of resources et emotional abuse

Mali : Aicha’s testimony – #WomanNotSlave #MaritalViolence #Mali

My name is Aisha and I am 29 years old. I am married and I am the 2nd wife. I have 3 children including two girls and a boy. We are refugees in Mali coming from Niger. My husband does not support me or the children. He does odd jobs but never gives me the money for condiments.
He gives to the first wife only. My husband is abusive and insults me often. He refuses that I work but I manage to feed my children. I do the braid and the laundry for people. I often felt sad and discouraged.
When my husband found out I was working, he got angry and said he didn’t want to see me anymore. I left with my children. I was hosted by a family I knew in the community. My husband continued to torment me and threatened to take my children and kill me. Life was not easy and it was by God’s grace that I survived. A client I was braiding told me about services that help women and put me in touch with a lady from an NGO.
The lady from the NGO listened to me. I had been looking for someone to talk to for a long time. The lady gave me confidence and I was able to unload myself. She told me about other services they offer. I was able to benefit from cash support. I cried with joy on the day of distribution because I never imagined having such a sum in my life. I moved a bit far from my husband in a room with a common yard. I was able to join a tontine to generate income and I bought food. I am grateful for the support because I am more independent. I am still in contact with the lady from the NGO. I’m fine.

Central African Republic: Philomène's testimony - Rape / gang rape

Central African Republic: Philomène’s testimony – #NoToRape #CAR #IGoOutSerene

I am the only child of my parents. These have been separated since I was young. I currently live with my mother. I am a bit withdrawn and have very few friends. My daily life was limited only to school. I stopped in Terminal class. On a daily basis, I help my mother with various household chores.
It was 2 years ago. A young neighbor of mine in the capital, who had been courting me for a very long time, invited me to a party, not far from our neighborhood. What I accepted. The latter kept me company until the end of the evening. When I felt ready to go home, I looked for my neighbor but didn’t see him again. So I decided to go home alone. So I borrowed a motorcycle taxi.
Unfortunately, on the way, the taxi driver hit another motorcycle, and I fell. I hit my head severely on the ground and passed out.
When I woke up the next day, I realized that I was not at home. I had severe headaches and saw myself surrounded by 3 boys, including my neighbor who had invited me the day before. I immediately asked them how I « landed » there and what they were all doing around me.
They started telling me what happened the day before. According to them, when the accident happened, they arrived at the scene and my neighbor, who recognized me right away, decided with his friends to transport me to my home.
Shortly after this story shared by the 3 boys, I started to feel excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I tried to stand up and noticed blood flowing between my thighs. I started to scream with all my might. I then found that I couldn't stand on my own two feet. I felt like I was high. I then understood, immediately, that the 3 young boys had drugged and abused me.
I tried to run away but I couldn’t stand up. The 3 young boys, afraid that someone would come and find them in the presence of me, fled and left me alone in the room.
I couldn't get up to go out, and I kept screaming with all my might until a "Mum" arrived to lend a hand. She dressed me, carried me on her back and took me to the nearest health center. She then contacted my mother. After this gang rape, I got pregnant. I am the mother of a 2 year old girl. I have since suffered from total paralysis as a result of this rape. I can't stand it for 2 years now.
After I spoke about my problem with the humanitarians, I benefited from psychosocial support and reinforced medical follow-up because in addition to the post-rape clinical care, UNHCR took charge of my rehabilitation (paralysis) sessions.
I also benefited from pre- and post-natal assistance with an NGO. My mother and I preferred not to lodge a complaint.

Central African Republic: Khadija's testimony - Rape

Central African Republic: Khadija’s testimony – #NoToRape #CAR #IGoOutSerene

I am Khadija, a young refugee woman who lived in a refugee camp for 9 years. I am the mother of a 7-year-old daughter. My child’s father abandoned us for 5 years.
After the camp closed, some refugees opted for local integration. Being a single woman Head of household, I also chose this option to receive support to boost my income generating activities (IGA) waiting to get my residence permit.
I moved to town after leaving the camp. The neighborhood where I lived was surrounded by armed men (militias). One day, while going to do laundry by a water source, an unknown gunman followed me. In the bush when I was alone, he grabbed me by force and raped me.
After this rape, I did not confide in my relatives for fear of being repudiated by my (Muslim) community. A month later, suffering from discomfort accompanied by vomiting, I went to the hospital where I was told that I was about 1 month pregnant.
My older sister, with whom I was living, then rejected me and kicked me out with my first daughter. Today my second daughter from the rape is 9 months old.
I was referred and taken care of by a medical, an UNHCR partner. I have lost everything and can no longer exercise. It is very difficult for me to support myself and my daughters. I now live with my mother and cannot get on with my life as I am isolated and suffer greatly from the rejection of my community.

Senegal: Lucy's testimony - Rape / Denial of resources, of opportunities

Senegal: Lucy’s testimony – #IKnowHim #ForcedMarriage #NoToRape #Senegal

He frequented our house like a member of the family. He was the son of my uncle’s friend whom I knew and considered my family. And yet when I was 14 he defiled me, he raped me. The pain of this rape had not finished consuming me until I found out that I was pregnant with this man. From there, was born my little girl.
I thought nothing worse could happen to me, until my uncle told me that I had an obligation to marry my rapist's father. Despite my refusal, the family insisted, no one listened to me, no one understood me.
I was constantly persecuted by my family and my community who accused me of having a different sexual orientation than usual, of being a lesbian. It was impossible for me to give in this time: I decided not to suffer anymore, I decided to flee. I am now a refugee in Senegal where I live in a precarious situation and separated from my daughter who is used as a servant. My daughter can’t even go to school. UNHCR accompanies me and provides me with financial assistance through one partner and another for psychosocial care and follow-up. I try to fight.

Nigeria: Nilaja's testimony Psychological / Emotional Violence

Nigeria: Nilaja’s testimony – Psychological/Emotional Violence

Everything was going well at the initial stage of our relationship. He had promised marriage to me. But you know what ? the man disappeared when I was 7 months pregnant. The descent into hell began for me, the bills piled up even though I could not afford to pay them, the child also had needs that I could not meet while he was entirely dependent on me. I live in a refugee camp and my psychological state is negatively impacted.
I am experiencing night terrors, intense worries and fears of safe delivery as well as neglect and lack of family support”. They help me with a psychologist, to hold on. I am anxious, sometimes I have moments of panic.
I refused to file a complaint against the father of my child. I prefer mediation. I do not want my partner to be arrested and taken to court. A mediation was held not long ago, he finally accepted to take his responsibilities towards our child.
“I am so happy, I am fine now, the organization listened, my partner is taking care of us and I got dignity kit from the organization and I am visiting the hospital for antenatal services, my baby is health”. 

Burkina Faso: Zougba's testimony - Rape / gang rape

Burkina Faso: Zougba’s testimony – #WarTimeRape #BurkinaFaso

My name is Zougba, mother of 02 children (1 girl and 1 boy). My husband had fled attacks by armed groups to take refuge in (xx) and I stayed with the children in the village. Finally, I decided to follow my husband at (XX) because the living conditions were getting more and more difficult.
On the way, I met 4 other women who were also going to (xx) and we decided to go together. On the way after having covered 10 km, 4 men with weapons in hand who followed us without our knowing it, stopped us at a certain moment and let us know that they watched over us during the journey ; therefore, they had to be rewarded.
They raped me in my children’s presence. I felt dirty, I was angry with myself. After a fierce fight with these armed men, the police arrived and these individuals fled. They were prosecuted but they were not apprehended. The police on patrol found us and accompanied us to the entrance to the town of (xx). 
I went to the mobile clinic for treatment. The doctor gave me tests and gave me medicine. I also spoke with the psychologist. I also benefited from the cash assistance. This allowed me to cover my basic needs.
Currently, I am much better and I can take care of my children and my husband who finally accepted me because at first, he did not want to touch me. After several discussions with the psychologist, my husband changed his attitude with me. I now know that rape is a crime and has serious consequences for the whole family. I think if I hadn’t been assisted by UNHCR and its partners, today I would be a dead person.

Burkina Faso: Ariette's testimony - Forced marriage / Denial of resources - Rape

Burkina Faso: Ariette’s testimony – #ForcedMarriage #Stroke #Rape #GirlNotWife

My name is Ariette, a 17 year old teenage girl. My family and I fled the attacks in our village a year ago and set up an IDP site. My father had lost all his cattle and we found ourselves without resources. It had become difficult for the family to find food. My mother and I go to wash the clothes of a family in the host community to earn 1000 francs to buy food for the family.
Given these conditions, my father decided to give me in marriage to a 65-year-old trader who already has 3 other wives. I did not agree to this marriage, but my father threatened to ban me if I refused this marriage. I was forcibly taken to my « husband » house.
Every night he hits me and has forced sex with me. I was very unhappy. I even wanted to end my life.
One evening, I decided to run away to hide in the parish. The religious sisters of the parish took me to see the psychologist who works with this NGO, a partner of UNHCR. I had 3 sessions with him and he also sent me to the hospital for treatment. I couldn’t go back to my family because my father told me that I am no longer his daughter. I told the sisters that I wanted to continue my studies. With the help of this NGO and UNHCR, the sisters sent me to the rehabilitation center for young girls in the city. This center is also managed by the nuns. I started weaving training and enrolled again in school, in fifth grade. I am very happy to pursue my dream of continuing my studies.

Cameroon: Prisca's testimony - Rape / Physical Assault (Domestic Violence)

Cameroon: Prisca’s testimony – #IKnowHim #WomanNotSlave #Cameroon 

I am a woman in my thirties, and mother of three small children, all girls. I am from (country in the conflict region) where I lost my husband and my three boys killed by an armed group. I arrived in Cameroon with my eldest daughter. When I arrived in (XX), confused and not knowing anyone, my daughter and I were greeted and accommodated by a compatriot.
One night, he sexually abused me and I found myself pregnant with my second daughter. My children and I continued to live with him anyway and that's how he became my life partner because I no longer have a family and I don't know anyone in Cameroon. Two years later, I gave birth to my third daughter.
Afterwards, the father of my two youngest children started hitting me to the point that I passed out. He did it at home and even on the road in front of people; he once ripped off my phone and broke it. It was neighbors who came to arrest him. He even made death threats against the children and me. One day, I went to the community home where I spoke with a social worker from the UNHCR social partner. After listening to me, she advised me to go to the police station at my place of residence to file a complaint against him and recommended that I move with the children so that we can be safe, which I have done. She also referred me to the UNHCR health partner, because due to her multiple beatings and loss of consciousness, I now have severe back pain and sometimes have memory loss. 
Although the police are still looking for the father of my two youngest children who has vanished and I continue to live with some fear, I since had several counseling sessions with the social worker who is following my case and this allowed me to regain my self-confidence and move forward. The UNHCR social partner accompanied me so that I could send my two eldest daughters to school, who benefit from the school assistance granted to refugee children and provide me with regular financial assistance every three months. This assistance allowed me to start a small business selling fresh food (tomatoes, onions, etc.).
By my story, I would like to call on women and girls beaten by their partners to denounce such situations because it is not the fact they are our husbands or life partners that they have the right to abuse us. We, women, girls, wives, we also have rights and we are protected by law and institutions.

Cameroon: Maeva's testimony - Rape

Cameroon: Maeva’s testimony – #IKnowHim #Violence #Cameroon 

I am 12 years old and I was raped by one of my father’s friend who often came to the house. It was a Saturday afternoon, my mom wasn’t there (she was traveling), my dad was at work, and my siblings were in the field. I was left home alone to sell in the stall in front of house. Uncle came and parked his motorbike like he usually did, he asked for the whiskey in the bag, he gave me the money and I served him. He asked me for a second bag. When I entered the house to get some, he followed me inside.

He pushed me onto the sofa and took off my pants and then raped me. I shouted but there was no one there. When he was done, he restarted his bike and drove off. I didn't tell anyone for days.

I was lying down with a lot of pain in my lower abdomen and wounds on my sex. My aunt thought about yellow fever. When she tried to purge me with traditional remedies, she noticed the injuries I had. I then told her what had happened.

My parents took me to a health center where I received treatment and the doctor gave us a medico-legal certificate. My father and I then went to the community home to meet a social worker from partner UNHCR, to whom he explained what happened to me. The social worker spoke with me and I felt reassured. Subsequently, the social worker advised my father to file a complaint and he referred us to the UNHCR Legal Protection Unit present that day at the community home. The UNHCR staff who received us advised my father to file a complaint, which they did. Throughout the court proceedings, we were accompanied by a lawyer who works with UNHCR and the one who abused me was sentenced to prison.

 I continued to go to school despite what happened because, although my classmates and the teaching staff were informed of what happened to me, they did not reject me and did not made fun of me.

I would like to tell children not to be afraid to talk to their parents especially when there is something wrong or when we have been harmed because we have the right to protection. Despite what I went through, I remain a girl like everyone else, I want to continue my studies and later help young girls who have had to endure the same violence.

Cameroon: Eva's testimony - Physical aggression

Cameroon: Eva’s testimony – #MaritalViolence

While at home in Cameroon, whenever I requested some money to feed my children from my partner, he would beat me with fists, a stick and slap me on the face, and ask a lover of his to beat me with fists as well, which she often did.
I would sustain bruises and become socially withdrawn for several days following each incident
Some years later he abandoned me and never returned. Following his abandonment, I struggled to feed my children, leading the children Nana and Lembi to pass away from illness in Yaounde in October and November 2019 respectively.

Cameroon: Ruth's testimony - Rape

Cameroon: Ruth’s testimony – #Rape #Armed Conflicts #Cameroon #RCA

The PRA was gang raped in Bouar, CAR by a group of the anti-Balaka militia in which her half-brother Jisse was a member. In Bouar, during the rape ordeal, the PRA also witnessed the killing of her father by one of the anti-Balaka members who had been together with the PRA’s half-brother pursuing the PRA’s father and demanding money from his business. After the rape ordeal, the PRA was rescued by a woman called Babitou whose relatives sexually harassed her.
The PRA is a single parent who engages in survival sex to gain shelter and food. She was abandoned by her partner while four months pregnant and has no adult male relative to take care of both herself and her daughter. The PRA raises her child on her own and is unable to feed herself or her daughter daily. She feels forced to engage in survival sex to provide for both.

Niger: Mahamane's testimony - Rape / gang rape

Niger: Mahamane’s testimony – #LGBTI #IAmMe #GangRape

My name is Mahamane and I am a refugee who speaks only Arabic. I know a young Nigerien who also speaks Arabic at the place where I often go for tea. I’m happy to have a new friend who I can talk to. He’s very cool and offered me a ride one day. We made an appointment the next day. I don’t know the city very well and I am very reserved. I am a homosexual and where I come from homosexuals are discriminated against. My friend doesn’t know.
The appointment’s day, he sends me to a very remote place where there are orange trees. This place has a very large fence with gardens. I don’t know why, but my friend is making sexual advances at me. I’m so happy, just met someone like me. I accept his advances and we make love.
Suddenly, 3 young people appear out of nowhere. I realize these are his friends. They hold me by the feet and the arms. They take turns raping me. I scream, it hurts, no one can hear me. After their forfeit they beat me and leave. An elderly man comes to my aid and takes me to the center where I live with UNHCR’s help. I meet with UNHCR staff. I explain to him what happened to me. I explain to him that I was raped by 4 people.
I am taken care of. But today, I’m so scared I can’t get out. I lost my confidence, I just got raped in the country that was supposed to protect me. But I was able to count on wonderful UNHCR staff who continue to follow me and make sure that I get better and better.
This is my story.

Chad: Hawa's testimony / Rape

Chad: Hawa’s testimony – #Rape #TheWomanHasADignity

I am a young refugee woman, the oldest of my siblings. I live with my father but motherless. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue my studies due to the problems encountered due to the conflicts in my home country (I was in low spirits).
My ordeal began in June 2020 when I obtained permission from my father to spend a few days with an aunt. Once there, I fell ill to the point of losing consciousness and according to interpretations, I am haunted by evil spirits. My aunt then sent for her marabout to treat me. The latter consulted me with a few incantations. Then he told me that I should not leave the room until he finishes the treatment and I do whatever he asks for my rescue. He would come every morning and night to give me a drink of water mixed with products of which I do not know the composition, for several days.
In his presence, no one else had the right to access my room. The more I drank his decoction, the more my health deteriorated, I could no longer control myself. Over time, I realized that the marabout had sexually abused me on several occasions.
When I wanted to react, he told me that he made a pact with the spirits and that I should marry him if I want to be healthy. I refused this despite his threats, I was no longer taking his products. I explained the situation to my aunt who accused me of consenting to sex because I am a big girl. This reaction from my aunt put me in a depressed state until she sent to call my father who took me home.
I was first entrusted to religious for prayers and then referred to the APLFT (UNHCR partner in charge of the Legal and Psychosocial Assistance component) for follow-up and also referred to ADES (UNHCR’s medical partner) where an assessment medical has been done. My life was saved thanks to psychosocial support because at one point I almost committed suicide because I saw my dark future and I couldn’t accept what had happened to me.
Then with my father, we began to approach the judicial police to file a complaint against the marabout who was indeed arrested and transferred to the remand center. The marabout received a prison sentence of 5 years for rape and 2 years for charlatanism in accordance with the laws in force in Chad.
I encourage women and girls who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to speak out against these criminal, abusive acts. They denounce in order to be heard and above all to demand justice because if justice is not served, another woman or girl can fall into the same situation.
Gender-based violence is a challenge that affects women and girl’s health and well-being in WCA. When women and girls prosper, families and societies prosper. It’s time to end gender-based violence and support survivors.

For more information about rape

1. Rape: vaginal, anal or oral penetration without consent (even superficial), using the penis or another part of the body. Also applies to inserting an object into the vagina or anus.


2. Sexual assault: any form of sexual contact without consent that does not lead to or is not based on an act of penetration. Among other examples: attempted rape, as well as unwanted kissing, fondling and touching the genitals or buttocks. FGM is an act of violence that damages the sexual organs; they should therefore be classified as sexual assault. This type of incident does not include rape (which consists of an act of penetration).


3. It is considered that in the WCA region, 1 in 3 women have been sexually assaulted, and 1 in 5 raped.

For more information about denial of resources, opportunities or services

Denial of legitimate access to economic resources / assets or livelihood opportunities, and to education, health or other social services. We talk about denial of resources, opportunities and services, for example, when a widow is prevented from receiving an inheritance, when a person's income is forcibly confiscated by his close companion or a member of his family, when a woman is prohibited from using contraception, when a girl is prevented from going to school, etc. Cases of general poverty should not be recorded.

For more information about child marriage

Child marriage seriously damages their health and exposes them to violence in their homes. 6 out of 10 countries in the world with the highest rates of child marriage are in West and Central Africa (Source : UNICEF / PLan). Protect our children and end child marriage.

For more information about psychological / emotional Violence

Infliction of mental or emotional pain or injury. Among other examples: threats of physical or sexual violence, intimidation, humiliation, forced isolation, pursuit, verbal harassment, unwanted attention, remarks, gestures or writings of a sexual and / or threatening nature, destruction of precious property, etc.


These testimonies from refugees, internally displaced persons and other persons of concern to UNHCR were collected with their informed consent. Survivors of various forms of GBV, in the West and Central African region, their first names have been changed, as have the countries of origin. The photos are illustrative.