Photostory: Treating victims of sexual violence

28 Aug 2014
Related Countries
Central African Republic

Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has left half the population in need of emergency aid with many living in the bush without access to healthcare. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been working in the country for over 20 years providing humanitarian assistance.

MSF has recently set up a service for victims of sexual violence providing psychological and medical support at the General Hospital of Bangui.


At the General Hospital of Bangui, MSF opened a medical and psychological care service for victims of sexual violence in early July 2014. In just over a month, the team received 75 patients, including men, women and children.

F, 20, had frequent nightmares and no longer had an interest in life after what she experienced. On the 9th January, while the city of Bouar where she lived was attacked, she was kidnapped by several armed men after powerlessly witnessing the murder of her uncle. 

She had been beaten and raped for three days without food or water before being left in the middle of the forest. She then walked to the deserted town and finally decided to walk to Bangui, where her mother lived. She arrived Monday, 4th August, after a six-month journey only to learn that her sister suffered a similar fate near the capital.   

After the first consultation, MSF provides two follow-up sessions at one and four weeks. 

Sylvie Nadège, the MSF midwife explains "patients are very receptive to the proposed service and diligent to follow-up the different sessions. However, few of them arrive within 72-hours after an assault. Most patients coming for care experienced an episode of sexual violence a few weeks or even months ago".  

To prevent sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy, the patient should be taken care of within three days after the assault.

The trauma of rape is compounded by the fear of contracting an infection...

… or despair of having lost everything. "I was a shopkeeper. The attackers stole the money I had. Today, it is impossible for me to restart my business. And my boyfriend left me when he knew I had been raped " says 48-year-old C.

Find out more about MSF's work in the Central African Republic