They Remained Silent

No one ever told Jacob that his son Joseph was still alive.

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Telling Their Stories

In this country of conservative mores, reporter Ofeibea Quist-Arcton did not expect the women to speak of their experiences. But to her surprise, those whom she met at a safe house wanted--indeed, needed--to tell their stories. Few had told their families of their ordeals. One shook violently as she spoke. Many sobbed. The meeting's organizer was terrified. But they kept speaking because, as Quist-Arcton explains, "[w]ithout exception, the women all told me that, this time, there must be no impunity; that the soldiers who violated their dignity, so publicly, must be punished."

The perpetrators in Guinea had good reason to wager on their victims' silence. But they underestimated the ferocious courage that overwhelmed silence's lure. They underestimated the impassioned outrage within those like one doctor who told Quist-Arcton: "With the last breath in my body, I will fight to restore the dignity of our women."

Had Isaac earlier spoken of the Akeidah's trauma could he have challenged the brothers' brutality? Even had he been included under their ban, could his having given voice to his own pain have empowered Isaac to speak out against his grandsons' sins? Guinea’s brave women--who have told their own stories in hopes that justice more broadly will be done--suggest a hopeful, if belated answer.

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Rachel Farbiarz

Rachel Farbiarz is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law. Rachel worked as a clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, after which she practiced law focusing on the civil rights and humane treatment of prisoners.