LONDON (Reuters) - A poignant portrait of a Rwandan woman embracing the daughter she bore as a result of being raped during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 has won the National Portrait Gallery’s annual photographic prize.
The picture of Joseline Ingabire, a Tutsi, embracing her second daughter Leah Batamuliza, was taken by Israeli-born photographer Jonathan Torgovnik as part of a series documenting the lives of the thousands of Rwandan rape victims.
Watching in the background and leaning against the mud wall of their home is Ingabire’s first daughter Hossiana with whom she was pregnant when Hutus killed her husband and began subjecting her to months of repeated rapes.
The 12,000-pound prize was awarded at a ceremony at the gallery late on Tuesday.
The picture is part of a series called “Intended Consequences: mothers of genocide, children of rape”.
“When the genocide started, Joseline was married and two months pregnant,” said Torgovnik, describing the circumstances behind his picture. “The militia came to her village and brutally killed her husband in front of her.”
Then followed months of rape which continued during her ninth month of pregnancy with Hossiana and quickly resumed after the birth.
She eventually became pregnant with her second daughter. She also became infected with HIV.
The portrait was taken after Torgovnik had interviewed Ingabire about her experiences.
“When you look at this portrait the first thing that strikes you is how beautiful they are. And then you look at the mother’s eyes,” he said.
“On the surface, this is a portrait of a beautiful mother and her children. Her beauty is there, yes, but there is something quiet and terrible behind that,” he added.
Since work began on the Intended Consequences project in February 2006, Torgovnik has set up Foundation Rwanda (www.foundationrwanda.org) to provide funding for the secondary school education of children born from rape during the genocide.
So far he has raised over $180,000 (86,000 pounds) from publishing portraits from the series.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1969, Torgovnik began his career as a combat photographer in the Israeli army before moving to New York in his early twenties. He currently works for Newsweek.
Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by Richard Williams
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