In the short documentary, The Testimony, Congolese women are used as weapons in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. In all conflicts, it’s usually women and children who are caught in the crossfires and made to pay for it. Rape is usually the “tool” which exacts the most damage to the opposition, since it leads to the destruction of a community and, in many cases, an entire ethnic group. But what if there’s no clear opposition for a government military destroy? The sinister part of this story is that the country’s own military is responsible for the majority of rape cases. Frustrated with their losing battle against destabilizing militants (M23), the Congolese military take those frustrations out on civilian women. The Testimony, tells the stories of some of these women. They share their terrifying experiences, the fall-out from their families and villages, and how they pick up the pieces.
What happens when women don’t testify? The rest of the world will never know the truth. Oppressors depend on that silence. And once we know, what do we do? We’re an ever-shrinking global community and we no longer have an excuse for being ignorant. We must repeat their stories and spread them far and wide. Some of us have to get in fray and get our hands dirty.
That’s where Vanessa Block comes in. I got the chance to talk to Block about her documentary debut, which was short-listed for an Oscar nomination and distributed through Netflix. She described how she found her start in film making and what led her to the DRC to film the historic Minova Rape Trial. I asked her about the challenges of finding survivors to interview, the work needed to heal a nation, and what her next project will be. Please watch the film and listen to our interview for a deeper understanding on this pressing issue affecting women in the Congo.