Yesterday we marked International Women’s Day in Reading in a very special way. Pascale Palmer, our Advocacy Media Officer, came to the RISC Global Cafè to deliver a powerful lunchtime talk to officially launch our “50 years, 50 faces” photo exhibition about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Attended by our volunteers Linda Heneghan and Rita Belletty, members of the general public and RISC staff members, the talk was a real eye-opener on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the terrible experiences that the women have gone through.
Pascale spoke about her personal experience of meeting and interviewing them, and how impressed she was by their strenght and resilience even after what they had endured. She helped bring to life some of the stories behind the pictures, like the one of Feza M’Nyampunda from Mwanda, Bukavu in Eastern DRC, who is 48 years old and was raped by rebel troops in front of her husband at their home.
She also spoke about the wonderful work of CAFOD’s partner, the Justice and Peace Commission in Bukavu, and the Listening Rooms project in which the women were involved, which offers medical referral and counselling to women who have suffered rape. She also underlined the paramount role that the Catholic Church plays in a country where instititutions are almost non-existent, and encouraged us all to take the issue on board and raise awareness among the people we know and meet.
A big thanks to Pascale for coming all the way to Reading and for her powerful testimony, and to all those who came along! The exhibition will remain at the Global Cafè until March 27, so do not miss your chance to see it if you are living in Reading or nearby – or visiting family and friends there!