The people of the West African nation of Guinea are still struggling to deal with the trauma of a deadly military crackdown on a pro-democracy rally last month.
It was not the first time troops in Guinea have opened fire on civilians. What has shocked people most is that women were targeted in a wave of alleged sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers in public — in broad daylight.
But it's the soldiers' brutal assaults on women that have so shaken French-speaking Guinea. The people's refrain is "C'est du jamais vu" — never before have we witnessed such acts.
"What was new about the sexual violence on Sept. 28 and in the days after has been the public nature of it — the stripping of women, raping them, putting the barrels of guns inside their vaginas," she says. "This type of thing has been extremely shocking to Guineans — a very, very conservative society that have simply never seen this type of thing before."
Graphic images of assaults have been circulating online and in e-mails and cell phone text messages. Human-rights campaigners say dozens of women were victimized, though the true number may never be known, because many women in Guinea are afraid to come forward.