This blog won't make easy reading. Anne shared her story and we wanted to tell you what happened to her. Together we must face the reality of sexual violence.
No shame in surviving sexual violence
“We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence, that the shame is with the aggressor.” That is what Angelina Jolie said yesterday, 10th June, at the opening of the Ending Sexual Violence Summit in London.
She is absolutely right. That is why I believe Anne Bucheche, from Rwanda, is such a courageous woman - for speaking out about the horrific attack she experienced. A gang of men from a militia group attacked her during clan clashes over land disputes in western Kenya and sexually assaulted her in front of her children and husband.
Attacked at home in front of her family
“I was selling onions in the local market when the militia demanded cash from me,” she said. “They were using the cash to buy guns across borders. Later that evening a group of between five to ten men broke into my house and beat me and my husband up.
“They were demanding more money, but I didn’t have it. Two of the men held my legs apart while the others put their fists inside my private parts insisting I must have hidden the money inside there. A gun was held to my head so that I did not scream at all. When they left I was bleeding a lot. They took my two cows and ran back to their hide out in the forest.”
Rebuilding her life and working for justice
Anne was helped by ActionAid with medical care and facilitated healing forums where she and other women spoke out their experiences and started the healing process. She also received a grant from ActionAid to restart her business.
Since the attack Anne has become involved in a community group trained by ActionAid to take up cases of violence against women and girls and work with the police, health workers, the judiciary and an organisation of women lawyers who provide pro-bono legal services to women survivors of violence.
She is vocal in campaigning for rights of women and girls against violence. She has also been involved in peace-building activities as a way of protecting women from violence in the future.
She told her story to the Evening Standard last week because she wants to help other women see that they too can break their silence on this taboo issue.
Help end violence against women
ActionAid UK is campaigning to end violence against women and girls so they can fulfil their potential and live lives without fear.