Bearing Witness

CNN runs a two-part story on the traumas of rape in wartime. The first part highlights the work of Vitoria Sanford among Mayan women in Guatemala:

It began as a headache. Then her throat started to feel tight. A dull pain welled in her chest and her joints ached.

But Victoria Sanford continued to do the interviews. Even in the middle of the night, the women in Guatemala always managed to find her, the “gringa” they heard had come to listen to them.

It was the early 1990s, years before the international community would formally recognize the Guatemalan government’s role in the systematic rape of its Mayan women — and decades before the current violence in Libya and elsewhere around the Middle East would once again remind the world of the brutal effectiveness of rape as a weapon of war.

Sanford was then in her early 30s and pursuing an anthropology doctorate at Stanford University. A Spanish speaker who had worked with Central American refugees, she befriended the few Mayans who had moved to California.

Press here to read the rest

Rape in wartime: Listening to the victims

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