Pierrette* does not know her exact age, but she shyly suggests “around 15.” She was kidnapped by armed men, and held captive for two months. She became what is known as a “forced wife,” given to a man to spend nights with him... “Two and a half months ago, I’d left to work in the fields. I was with my mother and my brother’s wife. They [men] burst out of the bushes – there were lots of them, and they were armed. They were aggressive. They took us into the forest by force. They let my mother and sister-in-law go, but they kept me with them in the forest.” This was the start of around two months of captivity for Pierrette, in the thick of the tropical forest and the armed conflict. “We walked a lot during the day. We carried rice, peanuts, salt. I slept with a man at night. It was always the same one. During the day, others would hit me, and he would act as if he didn’t know me. He spent his days with another woman, a mother with children. And at night, he slept with me.” “These men killed people next to me. I was scared, but we weren’t allowed to cry. If we cried, they hit us on the back,” relates Pierrette, showing the scars that criss-cross her back and feet. “There were other people who cried with me. They spoke zande , like me, so we could talk, even if we didn’t know each other.” After two months, Pierrette managed to escape. She came to the health centre. She was then referred to the hospital, where she received medicines and food and she managed to talk to the MSF psychologist. “I try not to think about it all anymore,” says Pierrette. “I block it from my mind. I don’t talk about it to anyone. But when my mother asked me questions, I told her everything. When I described everything that had happened, my mother and father cried.”

* Names have been changed to protect those involved.