Boxing Against Violence: The Female Boxers Of Goma.
We are in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, the most violent of the eastern provinces of Democratic Republic of Congo. The area has been sadly labelled the ‘rape capital of the world’ by Margot Wallström, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Goma with its province is one of the worst places in the world to live for a woman, since during the well-known conflict of 1996, rape and sexual violence were used as weapons of war and now is estimated that more than half of the women who live in DR Congo suffered physical or sexual violence during life (source USaid).
All these sad records have not stopped women, whose strength to go on and overcome the atrocities suffered over the years, is more than ever alive in the story I'm telling.
The Club de L'Amitiè, inside the main stadium of the city, is the meeting place for a group of women who have found hope and passion in boxing.
This is thanks to their coach, the former Congolese boxing champion and former child soldier: Balezi Bagunda. Here women learn not only to throw their fists, but regain strength and desire to fight against injustice.
Another significant gathering place is the Radi Star Girls Club, an exclusively female boxing club where women share not only the passion for this sport but also the dream to become world boxing champions one day.
I created this series of portraits to depict this incredible group of young women living in a deeply patriarchal society, they are protagonists and witnesses of how the struggle for life passes through the sport that makes them stronger and more prepared to face their everyday life. This is a story of pain and hope in which the desire for redemption wins thanks to the strength and exercise of will, a metaphor of existence in a place where women have only one alternative to survive: learning to fight.