As a young child in the 1970s, Benny Wenda’s world was his village in the remote highlands of West Papua. Life consisted of tending gardens with his mother among the Lani people who, he says, ‘lived at peace with nature in the mountains’. In 1977 that life changed dramatically.
That year, the military appeared in his village. Now, every morning on the way to their gardens, Benny and his mother and aunties would be stopped and checked by Indonesian soldiers. Often the soldiers would force the women to wash themselves in the river before brutally raping them in front of their children. Many young women, including three of Benny’s aunties, died in the jungle from the trauma and injuries inflicted during these attacks, which often involved genital mutilation. Every day Papuan women had to report to the military post to provide food from their gardens, and to clean and cook for the soldiers. Violence, racism and enforced subservience became part of daily routine. read full article here