i believe wartime rape should be regarded as a weapon of mass destruction and treated accordingly by international law. planned attacks on civilian women, their bodies and sexuality injure, scar and stigmatize decades onwards; a single act of rape can destroy entire families and future generations. while many of the reasons rape results in such devastating consequences are due to our cultural and systematic views on gender and women's value in society, at the very basic level it is a brutal act of violence which often brings about an innocent, but constant, reminder: a child.
rwandan genocide in 1994 resulted in estimated twenty thousand children born from rape. the mothers struggle to sustain themselves as members of communities who shun them for raising children of hutu origin. in addition to living a life bearing the scarlet letter, these women perform their daily routines conflicted about a child they love but whose presence forces them to relive the horrors of war repeatedly.
as wartime rape remains a common form of warfare around the world -- amnesty international reports war raping at ongoing conflicts in colombia, iraq, sudan, chechnya, nepal and afganistan -- it is important to hear the voices of these women and take their experiences seriously as war crimes.
the compelling stories of rwandan women are told by jonathan torgovnik's photos at aperture gallery starting 9 march 2009 and a related book will be available.