We are looking for essay writers who will help promote the awareness of refugee rights in Korea. NANCEN wants to let the voice of refugees heard as they want to be heard in Korea society. We wish Koreans could come to understand that refugees are not to be feared or pitied. If you are interested in this project, please contact to email@example.com, Ku.
My name is Larry Madowo. I was married as the third wife of a man from a different tribe. Polygamy is allowed in my country as long as a husband can take care of his entire family.
I became a refugee because of the 2008 presidential election in my country. A candidate from my tribe was elected president. The announcement of the election result led to a war in my country. I was beaten by my husband’s two other wives, who are from the rival tribe. They chased me away from my husband's house.
The violence caused by the disputed presidential election took place in my country from December 2007 to February 2008, and included use of excessive force by police against protesters, ethnic-based killings, and reprisals by supporters aligned with both the ruling and opposition parties. There were also widespread destruction, looting of homes and properties, and expulsion of people like me from their homes. Furthermore, Human Rights Watch has issued credible reports regarding election-related sexual violence in many regions of my country.
Now, the question is whether the authorities promptly investigated allegations and sought justice for victims or ignored those who were suffering, as in the past. The truth is that most victims, especially women and girls, are still undergoing physical, mental, social, and economic effects of sexual violence, along with other human rights violations.
In many cases, sexual violence was accompanied by severe physical abuse, including stabbing, kicking (which happened to me), slitting with machetes, throwing women on hard surfaces, and beating with heavy objects. Victims who tried to resist often incurred additional beating.
Insecurity, trauma, fear of stigma, and lack of transportation and money prevented most victims from seeking medical treatment. Thus, the absence of medical examinations limited the number of cases in which forensic evidence could be used in prosecution. The lack of treatment after sexual violence also led to unwanted pregnancies and venereal infections, including HIV, which put a significant financial burden on victims. Moreover, many victims have been rejected by their husbands and families. However, my government has not implemented any programs to provide proper psychological support for the victims.
T, 'Woman', acrylic on canvas
ⓒ The Refugee Art Project
The authorities in my home country have been indifferent and reluctant to initiate a genuine, credible, and effective investigation into the violence over the election and punish the perpetrators, especially those who organised and financed the violence and members of the State Security Forces, who committed serious abuses.
The victims have deemed the prosecution of the perpetrators meaningless because the perpetrators have not been punished and the victims have not received help from the authorities. Lack of confidence and negligent attitudes toward victims of sexual violence are pervasive among police officers. Witnesses are also not protected effectively because they are poor.
During the election period, a lady was raped by three members of the General Service Unit, a paramilitary wing of the police force.
Governmental failure to punish abusive officers only perpetuates lack of trust.
I am afraid to go back to my country because no safety is guaranteed. Myself and others do not have confidence in our government, as we know that the same problems happened again over the latest election on August 8, 2017. Serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings and beatings by police, broke out door to door.
I already have a baby girl, born here in Korea. Her name is Success. The security and education systems in Korea are the best. In my country, now children cannot go to school due to poor security and continued gunfight over the elections. The poor are starving because no one is able to work in the middle of fights and murders.
My prayer is to get asylum for my daughter and me in Korea for a better, new life. I don't want my daughter to undergo the agony that I went through in my country.
* Korean version: http://nancen.org/1681
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