Hello world, Bamako here.
My intention was to write about my very first impressions on day one, except I quickly realised my colossal failure to into account just HOW TIRED I would be. So here I am, day 1 + 1 in Bamako. And still no photos, I have to get used to taking my camera out. Voilà, writing from the bar of Auberge Djamilla, my second home and hopefully my last stop before I find a room of my own (YES, and if anyone knows of any room openings in a shared flat or house in Bamako, let me know!).
I spent yesterday and today in the office at Sini Sanuman, where I was welcomed with more warmth than I could hope for. I spent some time talking to the wonderful Mariam yesterday, who told me a lot about Sini Sanuman’s work for the prevention of female genital mutilation as well as their more recent efforts to identify cases of gender-based violence after the war. Or crisis, as it is called. As we were talking in the stuffy, hot and humid office I was trying with all my strength to keep my head up and my eyes open. Battling the fatigue from the trip, the drastic change of climate and my general tiredness I listened to her stories in complete awe. The question that kept coming up in her recounts of sexual violence, rape and the social stigma and denial that follow was: pourquoi?
Why? Tradition, customs, beliefs? I asked Mariam: what is it that made you so open minded, so different from everyone else? Mariam said it was education. What a powerful thing to say, and I even realised that in my semi-absent state of mind.
Day 1+1, and I am slowly creating a mental image, an intricate graph almost, something I am trying to use to grapple with the information I am receiving. What a silly thing to do, no linear design could ever represent reality. This is how I am dealing with it though, I can’t help it and every new piece adds onto my image, without my permission: I came to Bamako to help Sini Sanuman open centres of reintegration for victims of war rape. During war, rape is used as a tool to mobilise, terrorise and weaken the enemy. The body of a woman, and sometimes of men, becomes the battlefield. However, I am realising more and more that there can be no clear-cut dividing line between forms of sexual violence in war and peace. Mariam’s stories were mostly stories of violence during peacetime. In war sexual violence has a goal, but the tool, in its essence, is the same.
My image is far from complete, and will probably never be. It just helps to keep in mind that before war there is peace, and after the war, one day, there will be peace again. How do Malians want that peace to look like?
Posted By Giorgia Nicatore
Posted Jun 6th, 2014