Last week in London, the first-ever Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict was convened to draw attention to the victims of warzone rape and coordinate action to end the practice. As part of the summit, the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict launched an exhibit called Beauty in the Middle: Women of Congo Speak Out, featuring images by award-winning American photographer Pete Muller.
Muller travelled to Congo in February to document the work of activists and survivors who are working toward solutions to the violence in the country. Here's how one of the survivors described her decision to testify against soldiers who raped her in the town of Fizi: "Yes it's dangerous but everything is dangerous. If we go to the fields to get food, we get raped. If we go to the river to get water, we get raped. Now we get raped in our own homes."
After her 25-year-old daughter was attacked by members of the Congolese national army, Neema Namadamu (in the photo above) founded an initiative called Maman Shujaa, which endeavours to amplify the messages of the women working for peace using digital media. Other photos show soldiers on trial for rape, and the work of SOFEPADI, a coalition of 40 women’s organizations that's active in the region.
"It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict," Angelina Jolie, who's a UN Special Envoy for Refugee Issues, said in her opening remarks at the summit. "We need to shatter that culture of impunity and make justice the norm, not the exception, for these crimes."
See images from the exhibit, along with the captions that accompanied them, in the gallery above.