Used as a weapon of war during the conflict that has torn the eastern part of the country for about ten years, the rapes – collective in most of the cases and committed by both civilians and soldiers – have ever since ravaged the Congolese communities. The control of the abundant mining resources is chiefly what if at stakes in this conflict.
The general Panzi hospital in Bukavu, the provincial capital of the South Kivu, has received 16000 victims of rapes since 2000.
The absence of effective penalties, the disarray of the judicial system and the underreporting of the problem encourages the growth and extent of the phenonrenon. The men who carry out these sexual crimes, both civil and military, are rarely questioned, judged or arrested for their crimes. The girls and women, also victims of sexual mutilations, forced marriages and prostitution, often suffer a double penalty. Destroyed physically and psychically, considered as “dirty” and relegated, they are eventually rejected by their community.
For fear of being abandoned and because they are ignorant of their rights, many of them take refuge in silence.
This photo essay has been realized thanks to the Getty Images Creative Grant 2011.