tagNonConsent/ReluctanceTruth, Reconciliation, War Crimes and Justice

Truth, Reconciliation, War Crimes and Justice


If you're looking for the light-hearted stuff that I've been doing recently then don't look at this tale. This is Cinner in a more sober mood.


"Would you please state your name for the court?"

"I am Gillian Hoo. I was a nurse with JamHelp, a Jamaican charity that offers education and medical relief wherever in the world it is needed."

"Thank you Ms. Hoo; please just answer the questions that you are asked."

"I'm sorry."

I have to be careful here. I am angry; and my rage is making me reckless. I want to show these people that I am coherent and intelligent. I did not in any way deserve what you did to me. I will not allow this delayed trial to result in me getting no justice at all from you!

"Okay. You have already established that you were a nurse with JamHelp; can you tell us if you had to work with the accused, Dr. Hell?"

"Yes, I worked with him in The Ognoc region of Central Africa for nearly a year. He was a doctor with another charity working in the same area. Our organisations decided to join forces and work together so that we would not waste resources."

"You say that you worked with him; during that time, what was the nature of your professional relationship with Dr. Hell?"

My anger flares at the memory of the indignities through which you put me. I struggle to remain calm; mirroring your impassive countenance.

"There was nothing professional about our relationship. There was nothing professional about the way in which he treated me and the other nurses who worked with him!"

"What do you mean, Ms. Hoo?"

"From about my third week of getting there he abused me! He used us as live models when he demonstrated things for the villagers. He showed them how to use a condom on me; how the withdrawal method of birth control worked for when they ran out of condoms; and when that didn't work, how to do breast examinations and how to breastfeed!"

I struggle not to cry. These are tears of rage that I will not get a chance to deliver my own brand of justice to you. Having shown me what it is like to have stepped away from civilisation you have scarred my soul as well as my body; and it is that for which I will never forgive you. This said, I will not pander to the culture of impunity in these war-ravaged tribal enclaves to which you fell prey. As God is my witness, I will make you pay. I hear someone say something and struggle out of my hate-filled haze to listen.

"Ms. Hoo, Dr. Hell has claimed that his relationship with you was consensual, and that the child that you had with him was something that you both wanted. He..."

"He is a liar!" I shout, springing to me feet.

My rage can no longer be contained, and the murmur that I hear among the people witnessing these proceedings tells me that they recognise this fact. The prosecutor steps back from me a little.

"I know that this must be difficult for you to have to remember, Ms. Hoo," he says carefully, "but could you tell this Commission exactly what else happened at your village in Ognoc?"

I reflect carefully before answering. How can there be reconciliation here if you are allowed to escape with just a slap on the wrist? Why should I accept being victimised yet again in a revision of the history that you have already written for me? We should not be here in a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission". You deserve to be brought before a war crimes tribunal, but the powers-that-be feel that this approach is best for the nation, and what is one more female casualty in a place like this?

"Well, you know that I was impregnated against my will."

I see your defence open his mouth to protest so I hurry on.

"Dr. Hell used me to show the men in the village how to take temperature anally and how to do an enema to clear constipation on me because he said that the villagers seemed to learn more from live demonstrations. He also spoke with the men about how to control their wives and so maintain social harmony... and again, he demonstrated his techniques for spanking and bending their woman to their will for sex when they are unwilling on me for your audience, and he insisted that people know the proper names and uses for the parts of the body by demonstrating these on my body."

I say this all breathlessly because if I don't I will not be able to get it out. Having to speak to this truth and reconciliation commission is, for me being assaulted twice!

"I saw him induce lactation on one of our colleagues so that she could feed some of the babies in the village at the clinic. For some reason, their mothers are unable to do so, and so every day there was a line of people standing with their children waiting to suckle her breasts. She took them two at a time in order to do this as quickly as she could. Dr. Hell would often supervise the process personally if he saw the line building up and pump her breasts manually or with a pump to stimulate more production when she ran low. There are times when she had to be restrained because she tried to escape if her nipples became sore. To be fair to Dr. Hell, he often massaged her nipples and breasts for her when she got very bad, but he said often that he could not allow any of us to shirk any aspect of our work no matter how much we begged or cried."

There is silence in the room. I know that for some it is shock at what they are hearing; for others it is something quite different. They are probably men among whom you would find friends.

"How did you escape, Ms. Hoo?" the government's man asks.

I see that even your lawyer is having a difficult time looking at you at the moment. Clearly; he did not suspect that someone would level accusations such as this against you. This sounds like the most gruesome of pornographic fantasy, and he can't even remember the words necessary to object to what I am saying. Beyond saying that I wanted our son, I wonder what else you have told him.

"I got away when two other Jamaican nurses came. They were men; no one had bothered to check and so two men from my homeland were allowed to slip through the cracks. It was they who put a stop to this. They realised that it was unlikely that they would have been allowed to survive for too long if Dr. Hell was to continue to live the way in which he did. It was a matter of taking action before something happened to them. Jamaica is small and it is a proud little country. They were angry that a woman from their homeland was being treated like this. That is how I escaped," I lie.

I notice that you look at me, understanding dawning in your eyes. I have truncated the truth. I have not told the Tribunal that my countrymen went native like you did. I have not told the court that their excesses surpassed yours. I have not told the court that they helped me, the only survivor of these atrocities, when they realised that you had planned to cover your tracks, and have them killed. My story is not a tale of forgiveness and turning the other cheek for men who did the decent thing under duress.

You see it in my eyes. You have escaped; my countrymen will not. The International Criminal Tribunal for Ognoc will be kinder to you than my family and I plan to be to them. A lengthy prison sentence will still allow you to live to old age. They will not be so blessed. Vengeance will be mine; the truth be known, there will be no reconciliation here today.

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