Rape and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone

Student Author(s)

Mary Kate Hart

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Ernest Cole

Document Type


Event Date



Sierra Leone was engaged in a brutal civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002. The conflict was characterized by atrocities including amputation and systematic rape. The victims of rape in Sierra Leone endured great suffering and many continue to suffer from the effects. Exacerbating the situation, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission proved to be inadequate for rape victims. This project will use the narratives of sexual violence in Sierra Leone as a basis from which to explore reconciliation. It will make the case that, because the victim experiences profound trauma as a result of rape, forgiveness and reconciliation are deeply needed by both the individual affected and the larger community. This article will argue that, given the nature of the crime, the victim of rape should not reconcile with her victimizer on an individual level. Nonetheless, a greater reconciliation can occur for the victim who is broken physically, spiritually, and psychologically by rape: reconciliation that is internally directed, reconciliation between the victim and the community, and reconciliation between the victim and God.

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