Over the course of three years, I traveled to Rwanda several times, to photograph, interview, and uncover more details of the heinous crimes committed against the mothers of the children in this exhibition. The mothers, many whom contracted HIV/AIDS from the militiamen that raped them, felt unable to speak about their experiences for many years, silenced by the shame of rape and having a child of militiamen who in many cases were also responsible for killing their entire families.
All the interviews in this exhibition were conducted in the privacy of the women’s homes. It was impossible to prepare myself for what I was going to hear. For most of them, this is the first time they have ever spoken out about what they experienced, yet with each interview, the women shared with me intimate details of their suffering, isolation, and the daily challenges they continue to face as a direct result of the violence inflicted on them.
These mothers have lived through the most severe torture any human can endure, and in the aftermath they continue to struggle against multiple levels of trauma. Unfortunately, victims of sexual violence in Congo DRC, Darfur, and around the world are facing similar challenges today. My greatest hope is that, in reading these stories and seeing the images of the women and children in this exhibition, people will be inspired to act and work toward ensuring that similar acts of violence never happen again, and that these families can have a brighter future.
The names of the women and children featured in this exhibition have been changed to protect their identities.