BUJUMBURA March 13th (ABP) – Women and girls are invited to share with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) their experiences in relation to Burundi’s painful past during the various crises.

The appeal was launched in Bujumbura on March 8, 2019, during a round table for a better consideration of the rights of women and girls in the process and in the national programming organized by the Dushirehamwe association on the occasion of the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Actors and stakeholders in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls who participated in the roundtable felt that women are generally touched by any event that affects them or affects neighbors. They are even affected when the neighbor is hungry. They have been much more affected by the painful past that Burundians experienced during the various crises in Burundi. They certainly would testify before the TRC if they are reassured of their protection, said one speaker. The objective of the TRC is the other criterion that would encourage them to express what they saw during the various conflicts. What do women want after telling the truth? The reconciliation? Justice? Or both?, a speaker questioned himself. Another speaker suggested setting up listening teams that inspire confidence and credibility, taking gender and ethnic dimensions into consideration. He felt that it would be difficult for an elderly woman, victim of rape, to testify her lived experience before a team of young people, just as she will hardly speak to a team of men. In case of a victim of ethnic conflict, it will not be easy for the victim to speak to people of the same ethnic group as the executioner.

However, the public, specifically women and girls, are not sufficiently informed about the TRC mechanism and its missions. They are reluctant and afraid to speak out as part of this new process, according to roundtable participants. They recommended increasing awareness sessions on the TRC, its term and principles at the community level, and support by civil society. Women should also be informed and sensitized on the Witness and Victim Protection Act and encouraged to increase their participation in this transitional justice process, especially at the community level. The TRC was also asked to broaden the listening period to gather more testimonies about the painful past.

The sharing of lived situations is also one of the remedies to the problems of trauma, it was noted during the round table.

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