By Ashley Fantz, CNN
June 23, 2011 11:58 a.m. EDT
Editor's Note: This is the first of two stories focusing on rape as a tool of war. The second story, being published tomorrow, looks at the untold stories of rape in the Holocaust. Both stories contain graphic language; discretion is advised.
(CNN) -- It began as a headache. Then her throat started to feel tight. A dull pain welled in her chest and her joints ached.
But Victoria Sanford continued to do the interviews. Even in the middle of the night, the women in Guatemala always managed to find her, the "gringa" they heard had come to listen to them.
It was the early 1990s, years before the international community would formally recognize the Guatemalan government's role in the systematic rape of its Mayan women, and decades before the current Arab uprisings would once again remind the world of the brutal effectiveness of rape as a weapon of war.
Sanford was then in her early 30s and pursuing an anthropology doctorate at Stanford University. A Spanish speaker who had worked with Central American refugees, she befriended the few Mayans who had moved to California.
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