Ayesha’s Story of SGBV and Displacement

Sandra Pertek

18 December 2021

On International Migrants’ Day, the Untold Migrant Stories Project team is pleased to share a comic illustrating Ayesha’s story. Ayesha’s story has been created by the Untold Stories project, hosted by the University of Birmingham in partnership with the University of Maryland. The comic, supported by the U21 seed funding, is the project’s first visual representation of a survivor’s experience of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in forced displacement.

Ayesha’s story represents the trajectory of a refugee woman from Sierra Leone whom I met while undertaking fieldwork in Southern Tunisia in 2019. Being told the story by Ayesha, I hoped her situation would change given her extensive protection needs. However, her resettlement case has not progressed for the last three years. As the comic demonstrates, Ayesha is an extraordinary and courageous individual. She saved lives. She is still waiting for the resettlement to a safe place for her two-year-old twin sons, born of sexual violence, to grow. Ayesha is among many other forced migrant women stuck in forced displacement facing violence and discrimination. She feels abandoned and forgotten, yet she keeps holding out on hope and draws strength from her faith. The prayer Ayesha shared with me years ago was: “Ease violence in the world because if there is no peace in the world I had to face things like this, that’s why I was raped over and over again in Libya, that’s why there is no peace in Libya, and in other countries similar violence against women and children“.

The comic, in collaboration with the cartoonist, Emma Brown, was created to help understand the gendered harms and dangers in the forced migration pathways and can be used, as a tool, to raise public awareness and for educational purposes.

For safety reasons, the name Ayesha is used as a nickname to protect the victim’s identity.

If you wish to know more about Ayesha’s story, you can also read Ayesha’s blog post at: https://untoldmigrantstories.org/blamed-hopes-sub-saharan-african-migrants-intercepted-in-north-africa/

Also, you can download Ayesha’s story (below) for educational and awareness-raising purposes.

Suggested citation: Pertek, S. and Brown, E. (2021) Ayesha’s Story of SGBV and Displacement [Comic illustration]. Birmingham: Untold Stories Project.