Stolen Virginity: ‘Brikamaba School Girl’ Narrates Her Rape Ordeal
Binta (we decide not to use her full name even though she disclosed her full identity at the TRRC) on Monday gave a chilling account of how she lost her virginity in the hands of her alleged rapists more than 19 years ago.
Binta’s case shook the nation and resulted to the April 10 & 11, 2000 deadly student riots. A Grade 7 student of Brikamaba Upper Basic School at the time, she was only identified by the media as Brikama School Girl.
Appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission to publicly tell her story for the first time, the 34-year-old recalled how it all started at the Independence Stadium in Bakau where she and her friends from Brikamaba in the Central River Region had gathered to attend an annual inter-school athletics competition. Often crying and sobbing during her testimony, she told the TRRC: “We arrived at the Stadium around 6pm in the evening. It was a long journey and by the time we reached, I felt that I was hungry and I need to buy something from the shop to eat. I left on my own at night to head to the shop and by the time I reached the main gate I met two paramilitary officers. One of them grabbed my hands. I protested but he told me ‘we are officers’ … they took me behind the stadium where there was no light. And all of a sudden, he pushed me on the floor and raped me.”
Binta testified that she was escorted outside the Stadium by the two officers from the paramilitary unit. She said while the officer who grabbed her hands was making efforts to rape her, the other officer ran away.
She told the commission that the perpetrator ran away moments after raping her, leaving her in severe pain. Binta said she was continuously bleeding and in pain for four days.
“After the incident I decided to go back to the stadium when suddenly I met Mr. Bah (a teacher) who informed me that they were looking for me. I explained to him my ordeal. Then he decided to take me to the police station. The police took my statement and refer us to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) for treatment. I was admitted there for four days and all these while, blood was oozing from my vagina.”
She also told the TRRC how she had to stop her schooling because of stigma.
“When I got back to Brikamaba I went back to school but I couldn’t proceed because each time people saw me, they’d point at me or identify me to others. This caused a lot of trauma and I decided to abandon school. It was very painful and hard decision but at the time I thought that was the best I could do to safe myself from the daily bickering,” She testified.
Binta also testified that how she was labeled a liar by state investigators who were investigating her case.
“I was invited by the police investigators a couple of times but it was never rosy. They always shouted at me and that instilled fears in me. They told me and my parents that I was lying and I was a liar. I’m still hurt by this.”
Binta’s case and the failure of the government to prosecute anyone would later trigger the April 10/11 student protest that resulted to riots in different parts of the country, resulting to more than ten deaths.