Our latest Notable Narrative comes from The Sydney Morning Herald. Photojournalist Kate Geraghty and reporter Jonathan Pearlman have assembled striking still images, video and reported summaries to document the systematic use of rape by all sides at war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where millions have died during more than a decade of fighting.
The video’s originality is due in no small part to Geraghty’s vivid images and footage. However, the project works as a story because of the use of accounts from both survivors and an assailant, which offers a more comprehensive picture of sexual violence in the Congo than most news organizations have been able to assemble.
Five women tell the stories of their assaults, interwoven with the confession of Augustin, a young man forced to join a militia at 13 who admits to having raped as many as 80 women. “The first time, I raped alone,” he says. “After that, I used to rape in a group… I didn’t feel as if I did anything wrong.” Augustin further explains how he now works to make amends by sensitizing other men against rape.
Hearing the voices of women who have suffered in such terrible ways shows the full cost of the actions of Augustin and others like him. Zamunda, whose husband and children were killed in front of her says, “I wish sometimes the soldiers had killed me.”
On-screen text near the end of the video provides a bitter resolution when we realize that despite their horrific stories, the women on the video are the lucky ones. They have been able to access treatment, while most victims will suffer alone with their injuries and trauma.