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In Their Own Words: Survivors, Perpetrators Talk about Rape in Congo

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In Their Own Words: Survivors, Perpetrators Talk about Rape in Congo

Posted by Alex Hellmuth on August 8, 2009

“I’m here for treatment for the way they broke my body,” says Zamunda, a woman who survived rape in Congo whose story is featured in a moving multimedia presentation “Sexual Warfare in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The special page on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website features video and photos taken in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province by photographer Kate Geraghty, who uses visual journalism to infuse a human dimension into the often overwhelming statistics that describe the use of rape as a weapon on war in Congo; in over 15 years of conflict, an estimated 5.4 million people have died, 1 million have been displaced, and in North Kivu, 1 in 3 women have been raped and 30 percent of women and girls are infected with HIV.

The feature video presentation tells the stories of Mariam, Velentine, Yafanshize, Florence, and Zamunda, who were raped and then shunned by their villages. Intertwined in their tales of rape during pregnancy and the physical and emotional trauma they continue to suffer is the testimony of Augustin, a boy forcibly conscripted by Mayi Mayi rebels when he was just 13. Augustin estimates he raped more than 80 women. He never faces the camera as he painfully recounts his narrative. His soft voice is heard in the background as still photos play across the screen of women and young girls lying in hospital beds, listening to a trauma counselor, or gripping their children – the harrowing evidence of their victimization and survival.

The multimedia page also spotlights the work of Doctors Without Borders in North Kivu and presents a portrait of life in the camps for displaced people through a series of black and white photographs. Geraghty’s photos provide a moving depiction of life in the IDP camps: one filled with pain and loss, but not without hope.

To find out more about why eastern Congo is the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman and how you can take action to help women like Zamunda, visit Enough’s RAISE Hope for Congo campaign.