During these decade-long civil wars, numerous girls were abducted, raped and forcibly recruited. Others volunteered in order to find protection. They were used as fighters, sex-slaves and labourers by all parties to the conflicts. In addition to combat duties, many were subject to constant sexual abuse; some taken as ‘wives’ by rebel commanders, impregnated and forced to brutalize others.
The ones who survived the wars lost their childhood and schooling. They have undergone a process of transformation, intensified by their maturing during the wars. While trying to reintegrate into society, a lot were, and some still are, rejected. Due to the lack of gender equality and women rights, condemnations and stigmatization - for having been rebels, having ‘rebel babies’ or having been raped and used by other men - are common. The result of the process these women have undergone has been the creation of a new sector in the population, equipped with skills, needs and views, and confronted with a different set of social mores. A distinctive example would be the strong sense of independence they developed during the war.
Anita Jackson, Mahade Pako and Chris Conteh come from different social backgrounds. They had different roles in the wars, and found themselves after the wars in contrasting situations, and having different views. With strong and clear expressive skills, they invite us to understand their lives in post-war Sierra Leone, and the psychophysical adjustments they have undertaken in order to come to terms with their experiences. The principle of maintaining freedom of speech was strictly adhered to, as the aim of the film is to sensitize and convey to the viewer these women’s way of living in the past and present, without interpretations.
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