Hafsa Adan* is a 25-year old mother of two. When we first met her, she was sitting outside her house, her 1-year old baby tightly on her back. The other child, a 3-year old boy was playing callously not far from the mother. She was busy with chores but was occasionally interrupted by her son’s incessant cries. She was unperturbed by it. Her face told of a story replete with oppression, cruelty and debilitating poverty. She often wore a smile for her children but underneath the mask was a sea of sheer pain.
Throughout history, sexual violence has been tragically prevalent in armed conflict, and often viewed as an unavoidable consequence of warfare. Its preponderance in armed conflict is dismaying. Sexual violence is a conspicuous phenomenon and a common thread in conflict dating back centuries. They are infinitely tangled. And it is tacitly accepted as unavoidable. Conflicts often exacerbate and escalate sexual violence. It is organized. It is endemic. It is barbaric. It is vertigo-inducing.
Batulo is 18 years old divorced and a mother to a 3-year-old son, she was brought up by her grandmother since her parents were so poor to support her and her 11 other siblings. When she was 15 years old her father and her grandmother arranged an early marriage for her to a stranger “I had no say in any decision so I silently cried and accepted my fate, and when I was 6 months pregnant he divorced me; rumors were that he had a habit of predating on young girls;