Prior to 2003, survivors of rape in Mauritania were thrown in jail while the perpetrators went free. Correcting that gross injusticeand getting society to recognize the problem of rape at allbegan with the grass-roots efforts of four Mauritanian midwives, who could no longer ignore the stories they were hearing from their clients. With UNFPA support, the first statistics on sexual violence in Mauritania were collected, and a centre was established to respond to the multiple needs of survivors. Breaking the taboos surrounding the discussion of rape was the first step in addressing the problem. Local imams lent their support to the effort, convincing government officials, judges, the police and members of the community that protecting women and easing the suffering of those who are most vulnerable was a religious obligation.