– Aaleya Waslat, staff
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of 71 billion and is the second largest country in Africa. Ever since the Second Congo War of 1998, the country has been devastated by sexual abuses of men and women in the DRC. These abuses are committed by both foreign and local military forces. Limited access to maternal healthcare is further threatening the well-being of assaulted or injured women. Sadly, the conflict in Congo is not receiving the attention it deserves.
Apart from the various human rights organizations that support the resolution of this conflict, members of the media are also working to raise awareness about this issue. Dr. Aaron Goodman, Journalism professor at Laurier Brantford, is one such person. He worked with a group of courageous female journalists that report on the effects of the wars on people in the DRC.
In cooperation with the South Kivu Women’s Media Association, Dr. Goodman introduced a different way of reporting on the conflict in Congo. The practice of recording videos of their current circumstances and personal issues allows female journalists in the DRC to share their insights into the impact of the Wars and specifically the abuse of women in Congo.
“This is something they have not done before,” said Dr. Goodman. “This is an approach, an experiment in seeing if another kind of story telling can make a difference. That is the ultimate goal – to stop the rape and sexual violence through personal narrative and autobiography.”
Dr. Aaron Goodman stayed in Congo for 3 weeks and, through The Congo Stories project, enriched the approach of an autobiography, through videos, as a way of gaining more self-confidence and identity.”Hopefully, through going internal in their selves and reporting about how the wars affected them and why they are motivated today to risk their lives, can really translate into change in terms of support from peace building.”
JHR is one of the Canadian NGOs working to end human rights abuses in the DRC. It has trained journalists to improve their reporting on cases of abuse. It is hoped that, by shining the spotlight on these cases of abuse, authorities and members of the public in the DRC will be empowered to end the abuses themselves.