Weapon of War
Femke van Velzen, Ilse van Velzen, The Netherlands, 2009, color, video, 59'
In recent decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by many bloody conflicts between government leaders and rebels, leading to thousands of civilian victims. One of the horrors of these conflicts is the mass rape of women by soldiers: an estimated 150,000 women and girls have fallen victim to this crime. In Weapon of War, a number of soldiers and former soldiers tell their stories. Many of them are speaking about the atrocities they have committed for the very first time, and they are hardly able to acknowledge what they have done. "The army works with orders. There is no mercy," one of them explains. Others are tormented by a great burden of guilt, as they realize they have behaved like animals. Army captain Basima has decided to set up an information campaign and talk to soldiers throughout the country about their actions, in an attempt to break the vicious circle of sexual violence. One former soldier agrees to be confronted by the girl he raped while he was serving in the military. Another confesses in front of a full church and asks the congregation for forgiveness. The road to self-awareness and reconciliation is clearly a long and painful one.