By Jonathan Torgovnik
In Sierra Leone’s civil war, young girls were captured, raped, forced to take up arms and kill innocent civilians. More than a decade later, they share their stories, and reflect on the long term consequences and effects these horrors had on their lives.
In 1991, Sierra Leone fell into a bloody civil war that left 50,000 dead from 11 years of fighting. Thousands of children were forcibly abducted by rebel forces.
It is estimated that 30% of children involved in the nation’s war were girls between the ages of 8 and 18. They were abducted from their villages at a very young age and uprooted from their families that were often killed in front of them.
These girls were subjected to torture, sexual violence and forced to participate in the atrocities the rebels were carrying out – killing and maiming innocent civilians.
When the war ended in January 2002, many combatants were given amnesty. The country’s emphasis on reconciliation encouraged communities to accept the girls back into their homes. A decade later, these women often walk among their past captors and tormentors, and they are still trying to overcome and heal from the horrors they went through.
Photographer and filmmaker Jonathan Torgovnik is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and is represented by Reportage by Getty Images. He spent a week with these women in their home village of Binkolo, Sierra Leone where they shared their stories of being abducted and forced to be child soldiers during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.