Peace Mothers

Thousands of women were raped or abused during the war, and they have largely born their burden in silence. Rape is a taboo subject in Sierra Leone, and many rape survivors are shunned. Yet at virtually all of the Fambul Tok bonfires, women come forward and tell the story of their sexual abuse and accuse their perpetrator, in public. That takes an extraordinary amount of bravery.

These conversations can also take a toll on women. To address their unique needs—not just the survivors of rape, but all women who have survived the war and its aftermath—the women of the villages have started support groups. They call themselves the Peace Mothers, and Fambul Tok walks with the women setting up these structures. Within these protective circles women are reclaiming their voices and their strength, and changing their lives and their society in new and wonderful ways.