August 21, 2009

In a new exhibition at the Columbia University School of Social Work entitled “Intended Consequences: Genocide Mothers and Children of Rape,” award-winning photographer Jonathan Torgovnik chronicles the lives of the women who are still haunted by the Rwandan genocide. They face numerous challenges: the stigma of rape, discrimination against them because they are HIV positive, and the difficulty of living in a community that has not yet dealt with the trauma and atrocities experienced during the genocide.

During the 1994 genocide, thousands of Rwandan women were subjected to sexual violence perpetrated by members of Hutu militia groups. Among the survivors, those who are most isolated are the women who have borne children as a result of being raped. Some of these women have been unable to fully accept their child because they associate their son or daughter with the brutality perpetrated upon them. Others have accepted their child, but, in some cases, the mother's decision to keep the child has caused her own family to ostracize her. In Rwanda, where extended families form the backbone of community life, such alienation can be devastating. The mothers feel they have lost their dignity; they are alone, cut off from emotional and financial support, and utterly powerless.

The exhibition is part of the Open Society Institute's "Moving Walls" series. The exhibit is located on the fourth floor of the School of Social Work building (1255 Amsterdam Avenue) and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00am–3:00pm. For more information about the exhibition, please visit www.movingwalls.org.

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About the Photographer
Jonathan Torgovnik was born in Israel in 1969 and graduated with a BFA from New York's School of Visual Arts. His photographs have appeared in numerous international publications, including Newsweek, Aperture, GEO, Sunday Times Magazine, Stern, Smithsonian, and Paris Match. Torgovnik has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe, and his photographs are in the permanent collections of museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

Torgovnik is the first prize recipient of the 2007 UK National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Prize and the recipient of the 2007 Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. The Open Society Institute recently awarded him a Documentary Photography Project distribution grant. He has received awards from Picture of the Year International, American Photography, Graphis, Communication Arts, and Photo District News. Torgovnik's book Bollywood Dreams, an exploration of the motion picture industry and its culture in India, was published in 2003 by Phaidon Press.

Torgovnik, a contract photographer for Newsweek since 2005, is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography School in New York.

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