Refugee women survive gender-based violence—and flourish into independence

The following story was published on the World Council of Churches website as a feature for the Thursday’s in Black campaign against rape and domestic violence.

Their stories are harrowing and painful. Their lives are still not easy. But their triumphs are shining. They are refugees, women, mothers, wives.

The rebels came to my neighborhood and slaughtered my uncle. They beheaded my uncle in front of my eyes. We slept in the bushes for days and then walked toward Cameroon.”

We were afraid to sleep in our homes at night. We did all the work during the day and by 3 p.m. went into the bush to sleep. We dug holes into the ground and put mosquito nets over them to keep the babies warm and safe.”

Rekiatu Musa Jingi, investigative journalist and human rights advocate, produced a radio documentary that shares the stories—and strength—found among women in refugee settlements in Cameroon.

I traveled to these camps to find out how women are coping with life,” said Jingi. She found women who are changing the narrative on how society looks at refugees.

Several of the women Jingi meets have born the brunt of gender-based violence. But their stories also show their strength in emerging from trauma, then teaching people that it’s wrong to mistreat women, and teaching mothers why they should keep their daughters in school.

They are raising a new generation of children with more equality and potential,” said Jingi. There has been a tremendous evolution in these women since their arrival.

Rekiatu Musa Jingis radio documentary is part of Changing the Narrative, a project produced by the World Association for Christian Communication regional associations in Africa, Europe, and Middle East with financial support by the Otto per Mile foundation of the Waldensian Church in Italy.

To hear the stories, listen to Rekiatu Musa Jingi’s radio documentary.