Monthly Archive for November, 2010

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walter astrada – rape, weapon of war in eastern congo

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Walter Astrada

Rape, weapon of war in Eastern Congo

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In the eastern part of The Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of women and young girls are being raped with impunity and extreme brutality by all sides in the conflict, civilians, militiamen, armed groups, foreign-armed groups and members of the Congolese Army.

In most cases, many men rape women at the same time, what is know as ‘gang rape’. Not only are the women raped, but also their vaginas are mutilated with guns and sticks. In many cases, the women are raped in front of their children, their husbands, families and neighbors. This shows that rape is being used as a weapon of war to punish or dehumanize the women themselves, or to persecute the community to which they belong.

According to the United Nations, in the province of South Kivu local health centres report that an average of 40 women is raped daily, as a rule of thumb in such situations says the UN, for every rape that is reported, as many as 10 or 20 cases might be unreported. 14.200 women and young girls were registered as being raped between 2005 and 2007 in South Kivu. Complete statistics of the scale of rape in North Kivu do not exist. According to December 2007 United Nations figures, around 350 rape cases were reported every month in North Kivu.

Behind these alarming figures are individual women whose dignity, autonomy and health are constantly under threat. The consequences of rape are devastating; survivors regularly suffer from emotional disorders and mental health problems for the rest of their lives. They also have extensive damage to their reproductive system including miscarriages, infertility, difficult pregnancies, pain in their fallopian tubes, and, fistulas, causing leaking of urine and faces. Rape also increases their risk of contagion with HIV/AIDS, not to mention those who meet their death.

Likewise, there is such stigma associated with rape in Congo – where female virginity is prized and the husband of a rape survivor is considered shamed – that rape survivors are routinely shunned by husbands, parents and communities.

Legal assistance is rare and inadequate in Eastern Congo, where impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence remains a major issue.



Walter Astrada was born in 1974 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He started his career as a staff photographer at the local, La Nacion newspaper.  After a formative trip through South America, he joined the Associated Press in Bolivia and later in Argentina, Paraguay and then the Dominican Republic.

From March 2005 until March 2006 Walter worked as a freelancer for Agence France Presse in the Dominican Republic and was represented and distributed by World Picture News.  However, in March 2006 he moved to Spain from where he is working as a freelancer.  During 2008 and 2009 he covered Eastern Africa out of Uganda. Currently he is based in Madrid, working on a long-term project about violence against women. Since February 2010 he is represented exclusively by Reportage by Getty Images.

Walter won 3 World Press Photo, The Bayeux-Calvados award for War Correspondents, NPPA-BOP, ‘Photojournalist of the Year’ and ‘Best of Show,’ the PGB ‘Photographer of the Year’ and ‘Picture of the Year,’ World Press Photo and PDN annual, among others.


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pawel glogowski – the wall

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Pawel Glogowski

The Wall

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To get to the Wall, take a lift to the tenth floor and from there climb the stairs to the eleventh. A small space in the loft has been successfully transformed into a cult place well known to a majority of climbing society, not only from Warsaw. For the last fifteen years the Wall has attracted a great number of people, climbing and making friendships. The Wall gained its high reputation not only because of the place itself but mostly because of the people climbing there. After all, you achieve the best results climbing with the right people. And, apart from documenting this place, that is what I wanted to show in this essay.

Featured climbers (in order of appearance) are: Belka, Marysia, Gosia, Gabi, Kasia, Przemek and Lasic.

During the last days of June 2010, the building’s residents managed to remove the Wall and take over the premises for their own, though still unspecified, purposes. One of the most fantastic places on the Warsaw climbing map disappeared. A place with a unique soul and atmosphere, which I first got to know from stories, and then through my own experience when I went there on several occasions to take photos and meet people who trained there. One of them was Gosia, a member of the National Climbing Team who sometimes cannot afford to buy a ticket to the World Championships. For now all these people are scattered between different climbing walls, but there are plans for reactivation.



I was born in Warsaw in 1978. I guess I get bored when sitting for too long in one place. During my free time I like to go out and just walk, looking for new sites. Always carrying a camera, but not necesarily always photographing. My first photography related job was assisting in big fashion sessions. Later I started to work as a freelancer doing various assignments, then my musician friends got me involved with music photography for a while. Meanwhile I was working in a newspaper as a graphic designer, in a small publishing house as an editor, and for a while in an advertising agency. Currently I’m working with moving pictures for Polish TV. I find pleasure in doing so called “personal projects,” or those that I believe to be worthwhile.


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Pawel Glogowski