Rape and Recovery in the Congo

Rape and Recovery in the Congo

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST: Sexual violence is the weapon of choice in this war-torn African nation. Who is helping the victims? (Washington Times)

Armed conflict, hunger and disease have killed an estimated 5 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1998. Within this horrifying statistic lies an under-reported reality: in the Congo it is more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier, with rape being used as the weapon of choice on both sides of the conflict.

The National Congolese Army harbors some of the worst sexual offenders within its ranks. Despite strong rape laws, few rapists are ever punished and as a culture of impunity spreads, rape by civilian men is increasingly common.

For its weeklong series, The Washington Times dispatched U.N. correspondent Betsy Pisik and award-winning photojournalist Mary Calvert for six weeks to investigate the causes and consequences of a rape epidemic that is destroying the social fabric of communities. Their work was funded in part by a grant Calvert obtained from the White House News Photographers Association.

The project includes two audio slideshows which tell the stories of many inspiring individuals working to improve conditions in the Congo — a woman who runs a sanctuary for violated women, a male doctor who has pioneered surgeries to repair women’s catastrophic injuries, and a young woman who was raped at 14 and is now learning sewing skills through a Christian charity organization.

Mary Calvert was a 94th annual Pulitzer Prize finalist for Journalism in the Feature Photography category “for her courageous work published in The Washington Times that vividly documents how rapes, by the tens of thousands, have become a weapon of war in Congo.”

CHANNEL: Washington Times

Photography and Audio by Mary F. Calvert
Written by Betsy Pisik and Mary F. Calvert