The ICRC's 5th annual Humanitarian Visa d'Or award has gone to Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi, for her outstanding coverage of "The Minova Rape Trials" in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Brooklyn-based photojournalist says she uses photography to "explore the human condition across a variety of political and cultural contexts."
Born to a Romanian mother and an Iraqi father, Diana's website says her family experienced "political circumstances that landed them as refugees in the former Yugoslavia, after which they were resettled to Canada." According to Diana, her multicultural background and unbringing is reflected in her interests and desire to work in areas of the world affected by social unrest or humanitarian emergencies.
The prize committee, which was made up of representatives from the ICRC, The New York Times, and several leading French publications, voted unanimously in favor of her powerful and evocative images, which were taken between February 12 and 19 last year in a temporary courtroom in a small town along the shores of Lake Kivu in eastern Congo, where 39 soldiers where on trial for allegedly having participated in the rape of around 1,000 women, children, and men in 2012.
Over the space of eight days, the magistrates heard the moving testimonies of the victims, who wore dramatic black veils and costumes for their own protection. As Diana wrote described in an article she wrote for Al Jazeera America at the time, entitled "They will be heard," the experience was traumatic for the women, who had to deal with flashbacks and overcome the fear of confronting their accused attackers.
The prize committee commended Diana for the aesthetic quality of her work, which they said also revealed a glimmer of hope that the perpetrators of sexual violence might be more systematically held to account and prosecuted in future.
The Humanitarian Visa d'Or is given out each year by the ICRC's delegation in Paris to a professional photojournalist who highlights, through their reporting, issues women face in war, including sexual violence, as well as detention and the separation of families. The winner gets around $9,000 USD. The 2015 award will be officially presented in the southern French town of Perpignan on September 3 at the 27th annual Visa pour l'image festival.