I first met the women activists of the Association des Femmes pour la Promotion et le Développement Endogène" (Women Association for the Promotion and the Endogenous Development) in 2010 when I was asked by Gloriamundi, a Swiss foundation that assists small humanitarian organizations around the world in designing promotional material, to take photographs of AFPDE activities to illustrate their future website. A year later, I was awarded the Getty Images Grant for Good in order to create a series of portraits and interviews of women victims of sexual violence. Since then, I have traveled 3 times to Kiliba, in the South Kivu province of the Democratic republic of Congo, in order to help AFPDE develop communication material to fight sexual violence. My partner for the Getty grant, the GVA graphics studio workshop, is currently using my photographs to design a series of leaflets and posters, as well as painting a vehicle, for an awareness campaign to inform women of their rights and to promote the non-discrimination of the victims of sexual violence in the community. The campaign shall start early next year.
The situation in South Kivu is very concerning. Provincial health centers report forty cases of rape every day. The absence of effective penalties, the disarray of the judicial system and the underreporting of the problem encourage the growth and extent of the phenomenon. For fear of being rejected by their own community and because they are ignorant of their rights, many of them take refuge in silence.
Alarmed by this situation, the women of AFDE have decided to start a campaign to fight against the impunity of sexual violence in South Kivru, using photographs and testimonies. They inform women and girls of their rights, encourage and help the victims of sexual violence to seek justice, and raise awareness in their community to fight against their stigmatization. They also support many of these women in their physical, psychological and socio-economic rehabilitation.
Gwenn Dubourthoumieu (b. France, 1978) became interesting in photography while working in Africa for NGOs. He worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2007 and established himself in Kinshasa as a professional photographer from April 2010 to February 2012, working, among others, for the French Press Agency. He recently moved to Paris and joined Myop agency. Since 2010, his work has been regularly awarded. This year, he was awarded the 2nd place at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism Awards in the category «The Art of Entertainment», his work "Turkana warriors" has been short listed at the Sony World Photography Awards among the ten best series in the category "Fine Art – Portraiture", and his feature about "the child-witches of Kinshasa" has been awarded the jury's special prize at the 8th Days Japan International Photojournalism Festival. In 2011, the same work was awarded the jury's special mention at the Roger Pic Prize and the investigation prize at the European Journalism Festival, and Gwenn received the Getty Images Grant for Good for his work "Raped Lives" about sexual violence in the DRC. In 2010, he was already short listed among the exceptional finalists of the same grant, and was awarded the jury special prize at the International Scoop and Journalism festival of Angers for he work "Etat d'Armes".
For more information, please visit Gwenn Dubourthoumieu at: www.gwenn.fr/en/Gwenn_Dubourthoumieu_-_photographer/WELCOME.html
Samples of his work are permanently exhibited at Carte Blanche Gallery in San Francisco.