Editor’s Note: Rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right: this is the theme of this year’s 26 June campaign for the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. During the next two weeks, we shall be posting testimonies, stories and experiences from torture survivors themselves. Their testimonies explain clearly – rehabilitation works and is a torture survivor’s right.
Poverty is both a cause and effect of torture. Many torture victims face severe economic hardships as a direct result of their torture – the physical and psychological effects of these horrendous experiences can often make it impossible for them to work. Rehabilitation can be an avenue to ameliorate these effects of torture and provide the survivor with economic viability.
Swornima* was 44 when she was severely beaten by armed soldiers. About 12 combatants came to her home at around 7pm. They threatened to take her children from her to come and fight in the ongoing armed conflict. Instead, she replied that they could take her instead of her children.
They beat her on her shoulders, backside, hips and legs with wood, striking her more than 12 times across her body. After the beating, Swornima could not stand for two days. She feared the Maoists, and thus could not go to the hospital. She treated herself at home despite the fact that the pain was so severe that she could not sleep.
As a result of the torture, Swornima has suffered severe physical problems and pain, including thyroid problems and a first degree prolapsed uterus (when the muscles that support the uterus fail to various degrees). In addition, she has insomnia, anxiety and flashbacks of the incident. Swornima can no longer work outside of the home.
Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, a Kathmandu-based treatment centre and member of the IRCT, has been able to offer counselling to attend to her emotion and psychological problems as a result of the torture. However, she is in much need of income-generating support, as the torture has caused her to be unable to work and earn money.
*not real name