in Ivory Coast, the slow healing after a rape

in Ivory Coast the slow healing after a rape

Officially, in 2020, there were 822 cases of rape and 152 cases of sexual assault nationwide. Statistics largely underestimated, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). And behind these statistics hides a very harsh reality: complex care and a society that is still distant from the victims. Meeting in Bonoua with Cynthia, a young woman who is gradually rebuilding herself, almost ten years after her assault, supported by her husband.

From our special correspondent in Bonoua,

The facts occurred in 2013. Cynthia was then 24 years old. Handbag on her shoulder, the young woman comes home from work when she finds herself trapped by a group of men who rape her and beat her. Then it’s the black screen. When she wakes up, Cynthia is paralyzed… lying on a hospital bed.

I was plunged into a coma for three months, at the Yopougon hospital centerexplains Cynthia. After the coma, I woke up. I had lost the use of speech. After nine months of hospitalization, I returned home. It’s in the family that the memory started to come back a little bit “. Cynthia has to start almost everything from scratch: learn to speak, to get up, to hold a cup…

For the past two years, Cynthia has benefited from almost complete medical follow-up at the Don Orione center in Bonoua, located about sixty kilometers east of Abidjan. This center was created in 1979 by Father Angelo Girolami to support people with disabilities.

A slow work of physical reconstruction

From now on, this non-profit structure treats nearly 300 pathologies, with a team of specialists. Like Rémus Koffi: in twelve years of experience, this physiotherapist had not yet received a patient in such a state. “ When Cynthia came, we did an assessment, to see all of the deficiencies that she has at the level of the whole body, since she has tetra-paralysis. This means that his four limbs were paralyzed, remembers the physiotherapist. We did “mobilisations”: the “mobilisations” consisted of taking each limb, making movements, we lifted them… we bent, we extended… hands, arms. It was really painful. There were times when she cried. She cried hard. But that didn’t stop us from getting the job done. “.

Cynthia’s progress is slow. But the young woman, 34 years old today, remains determined. “ Initially, I was in a wheelchair. Then I had a daughter. Five years later, I got pregnant again. I moved around with a cane. And after that, I started using a walker. It’s slow… but it’s going a little, a little. When things go wrong, she addsI look at my children, I also look at my husband and this gives me the strength to be able to become as before, to take better care of them “.

Her husband was her first support. Shortly after his attack, Achim Guela Flan hung on day and night, despite the increasingly distant gaze of society. No way for him to reject his wife. “ She was in a deep coma for three months. When she woke up she was screaming [de douleur, NDLR]. She screamed for at least two months. Ten years back, I was then in my twenties : I was told no, you are not going to spend all your time, you have to leave it somewhere there and then come and get some money. But it wasn’t the money… I tell myself that it’s my presence that will make her dream… That is to say, when she wakes up from the coma, the first person she goes to want to see, it will be me. So I had to be there. »

An NGO to support women victims of violence

Cynthia would now like to support other women victims of violence. With her husband, she created, a few months ago, an NGO which already brings together 217 people. Among them, many other victims in search of moral support. But the goal is above all to talk to young people to prevent this type of aggression from happening again. “ We want to start first with the root: tell the youngest that women are not drumsunderlines Achim Guela Flan. We must not beat her as we want. We must not abuse her. We will first start with awareness. She will talk with them. It’s a mission. There is life after rape. »

Nine years after the events, Cynthia still does not know the identity and the motives of her executioners: despite a complaint filed after her attack, she has no news of her legal file.

►Also listen: Grand Reportage – Ivory Coast: sexual violence at university, the urgency to break the omerta