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. The image above depicts a 14-year-old young woman, named Kavira, who had to flee her family and village after being raped and ended up at a COPERMA center where she hopes to be able to rebuild her life.
To see more of Fretwell’s work, visit: www.sarahfretwell.com.
– Lindsay Comstock