This mother of eight was raped by Congolese troops who raided her village at night. She hid in her house, but they trapped her. Before they left, they stole everything in her house including the clothes she was wearing. She was left injured and naked. She said a neighbor gave her the clothes she was wearing in this photo. She says it is wrong to have to live “like an animal.” She is so traumatized by the attack she has been unable to return to her field to cultivate her crops.
Sarah Fretwell’s photographs may be beautiful to look at, but the truths they reveal are not easy to digest. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one woman (or child) is raped nearly every minute, according to the project statement on her website, The Truth Told. When Fretwell launched the project site in 2011, it was to bring awareness and funding to help prevent these atrocities, a result of the fight for resources in the mineral-rich nation where, according to Fretwell, “rape is used by rebel and military groups as a scare tactic to control and destroy local communities.” This violence, however, has sadly become a way of life for many. For a period of 50 days Fretwell teamed with humanitarian and writer Amy Ernst, and the human rights group COPERMA, to interview and photograph victims of rape in the North Kivu region of the DRC to promote healing and help the women (and family members of the women) in isolated communities get their stories out into the world. “With no immediate way to protect themselves and a dysfunctional ‘justice system’ survivors are left alone and afraid they will be attacked again,” she explains in her project statement.
To see more of Fretwell’s work, visit: www.sarahfretwell.com.