Women like Julienne Lusenge, directing a coalition of women’s organizations providing support to survivors of sexual violence; Adeline Nsimire, operating community radio programs, allowing women of the Congo to expand their knowledge and share their experiences of sexual violence; and Noella Alifwa, coordinator of a “one-stop” clinic providing medical assistance and accompaniment to survivors of sexual violence.
Amidst the constant threat of sexual violence, armed conflict and instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these remarkable women have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of other women.
The war officially ended in 2002, but violence and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be an ever-present reality. A number of factors have contributed: a weak central government, greed over the country’s treasure chest of natural resources, and the presence of numerous rebel groups. Over five million people have died in the conflict, and the extremely high levels of violence against women has earned DRC the dubious distinction of ‘rape capital of the world’.
There are, however, signs of change. Just last month—after two survivors testified against him—General Jerome Kakwavu became the highest-ranking member of the Congolese army to be successfully prosecuted for rape.
Congolese women are supporting each other, and working for change.
Today we bring more stories of the women of Congo to you as we launch our online multimedia exhibit – Beauty in the Middle: Women of Congo Speak Out. View the exhibit here.
Beauty in the Middle is a series of incredibly powerful photographs and videos telling the stories of both the conflict in the eastern DRC, and of the grassroots women activists and survivors who are mobilizing to end sexual violence. Their solidarity and sisterhood bring light and hope in the darkest moments of pain.
As Julienne explains, survivors of sexual violence may be “victims, but they are change agents.” The activists of eastern Congo are supporting, training and “transforming [the survivors] into agents of change.”
VIEW THE EXHIBIT:
CLICK HERE to view the exhibit: Beauty in the Middle: Women of Congo Speak Out
Check out the Beauty in the Middle Online Exhibit!
Catch up on the 2014 delegation to the Democratic Republic of Congo!