Photo exhibit shows another face of Rwanda rape

Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:23pm EDT
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By Louis Charbonneau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "I cannot really tell you how many men came to rape me, there were many. All I know is that four months later, I was pregnant."

Those are the words of Rwandan mother Sylvina, whose recent photograph and story are among the many that populate a current exhibition called "Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape" at New York's Aperture gallery (

Sylvina was one of more than a hundred thousand Rwandan women raped in 1994 by Hutu militia fighters who embarked on a killing spree and slaughtered nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The photos and interviews were done by Israeli-born photographer Jonathan Torgovnik, who sought to tell some of the stories of the estimated 20,000 children born as a result of the rapes that took place during the Rwandan genocide.

The exhibition at Aperture runs until May 7. Torgovnik's photos will also be on display at the United Nations as of April 7, the 15th anniversary of the start of the genocide, to raise awareness about systematic violence against women which continues in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

The images of the mothers and their children born of rape are both beautiful and shocking -- exquisite portraits of ordinary Rwandan women and their children and a reminder that the consequences of rape can be felt for generations.

Torgovnik lets the unsmiling faces of the rape victims and their children speak for themselves. A tiny reflection of the photographer is vaguely discernible in the children's pupils, which bore into the viewer with almost accusatory ferocity.


<p>An undated handout photograph of Josette and son Thomas is pictured by Israeli-born photographer Jonathan Torgovnik. This photograph and dozens of similar ones are on display at New York's Aperture gallery in an exhibition called "Intended Consequences: Rwandan Children Born of Rape". REUTERS/Courtesy Jonathan Torgovnik/Handout</p>