In the Democratic Republic of Congo, people say it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier. This series of portraits show these women, victims of war as it pervades their lives in Bukavu, a city in South Kivu. By rendering the photographs with a needle and thread, and playing with scale, color, and form, I attempt to give the images a literal depth and subjectivity that serves their history.
Daily in the DRC, the shame and degradation of rape rip apart social relationships. Many women are rejected by their families and stigmatized by their communities.When I met the women in these photographs, they were learning how to sew, which gave them a self-sufficiency necessary for shunned survivors of sexual violence.
The country is full of resources, lacking in infrastructure, and home to a war void of clear objectives or plots. In the DRC, there isn’t a Boko Haram, an Isis, a Hitler, Stalin, or Mussolini. There are at least twenty different rebel groups and nine different national interests fighting inside the country, home to 60 million Congolese. 5.4 million people have been killed. It is virtually impossible to put a face on a number like 5.4 million.
In the face of such truly unfathomable numbers, I offer these pictures of real, immeasurably strong women. The horror they have encountered is undeniable, and so is their resilience, grit, and spirit.