Burundi :
Jeanne M. Gacoreke

My dream is slowly becoming reality. At last rape victims are finding a way out of shame and silence. They are speaking up.

— Jeanne M. Gacoreke

Jeanne Gacoreke (49) is a teacher in Bujumbura. She helps orphans and widows of war and sexually abused women, fights poverty and reintegrates refugees within the country and those from abroad. In her Maison d’écoute, victims of war and sexual violence receive physical and psychological help and legal advice. Thanks to her initiative, the local radio has been presenting women’s personal stories about rape, thereby raising the public awareness on their plight. Jeanne is trained in psycho-pedagogy, peaceful conflict resolution and modern communication technology.

Jeanne Gacoreke's children live in exile for fear of victimization. She denounces rapists and restores social justice to the victims of war and rape. To her, silence is not golden, and as a result she is always criticized, and even threatened. Her village, a poor quarter on the outskirts of Bujumbura, has been destroyed four times in the last ten years. Each time the village has been rebuilt. Twice she had to take a bank loan to rebuild her own house. After the fourth attack, she remained in exile in order to spare her children the sight of dead bodies. She helped the women of the village to rebuild their homes and she eventually returned. One day her 70-year-old neighbor was raped. Jeanne secretly brought her to the hospital, because she was afraid of the military and the rebels. Soon after that, a 12-year-old girl was raped. Again she brought her to the hospital. International organizations and other women recognized Jeanne’s individual assistance and helped her develop a health center for women, where physical and psychological wounds can be healed. There is also a counseling center for the victims of sexual violence to reintegrate them socially, regardless of ethnic background. Jeanne sensitizes and persuades women who are raped to speak up, even on the radio. Today the traditionally shunned topic of rape has been exposed. Her work has made people more aware and sensitive. This she does at her own risk, because rapists bay for revenge. She is a teacher and also represents a group of organizations which works for the rights of women and children. She heads the Union des Groupements et Association pour la Promotion de la Femme. Jeanne is trained in psycho-pedagogy, peaceful conflict resolution and modern communication technology. She has attended courses on interviewing victims of sexual violence and now helps them to overcome their trauma.

Union des Groupements et Association pour la Promotion de la Femme