From a Guardian article written in May 2012, Diane Taylor describes the a Liberian woman who lived to see a war criminal, Charles Taylor, sentenced for his crimes against her family:
Black Diamond was 18 and a promising student when civil war broke out. She enjoyed a peaceful childhood in Voinjama, a town in the north of the country where her father worked as a doctor. During one of Taylor’s troops’ regular raids, in April 2000, her parents were killed and Diamond was gang-raped.
After regaining consciousness after the attack, she found her way to the headquarters of Sekou Conneh, the leader of Liberians United for Reconciliation & Democracy (Lurd) and begged him to take her in. When the compound was attacked soon after she arrived, she simply grabbed an AK-47 and joined in with the fighting.
Many of the women who joined the rebels were rape survivors who felt that joining the rebels was the best way to protect themselves from further predations by Taylor’s troops:
Rising swiftly through the ranks Diamond became a colonel in Lurd’s Women’s Auxiliary Corps, developing a reputation as a ferocious fighter. Many of the women were, like her, survivors of rape by Taylor’s troops and many had come to the conclusion that becoming a fighter was the best way to protect themselves against further rapes. Diamond still refers to them fondly as her “girls”. Of the 12 she fought closely with, six died in the course of the war. “Becoming a fighter was the best thing I could do under the circumstances,” she says now. But she remains haunted by all the horrors she witnessed.
As an ex-combatant, she is stigmatized, but she isn’t ashamed of what she did:
"Liberian women have always been strong and we are proud to have the first female president in Africa. Before the war, rape was almost unknown in our country. When the rapes started, I and the other girls who fought were determined not to be victims. We wanted to fight back to show our attackers they couldn’t get away with such things and that they, not we, should feel shame for the rapes."
She welcomes the opportunity to work with anyone who can help her spread the message of peace to try to protect the next generation from the horrors she experienced. “I am doing this for my girls,” she says. “Those who are lost and those who are living presently.”