A Dutch artist presents a visual narrative of the stories of six survivors of sexual violence during the Kosovo war.
Survivors of sexual violence from the Kosovo war have been suffering in silence for 24 years, living in secret and trapped in trauma, for them the war has never stopped and is still present in all its facets today.
Febe Meijnen, a Dutch photographer went to Kosovo to look for these survivors. After intensive research and networking, she reached six survivors, collected their personal stories and portrayed them anonymously.
See Me Hear Me is a fictional visual story, with locations similar to those in the narrative of the victims. In it, the reader experiences a translation of the victims’ personal feelings, by entering their inner world where the memories of the trauma are hidden in the darkest rooms of their soul.
“Sexual violence in war is a crime against humanity and it must be fought against and stopped,” says Meijnen, the author.
With this work Meijnen wants to raise awareness for this type of violence and shine a light on these survivors, the bravest she has ever met.
I heard the policeman say to his colleague “Bring her upstairs!”
Then I knew it was bad.
Everything was black around me.
There was no more light in me,
just my breath.
I’ve been living underground ever since.
I’ve been on the run for a year and a half and I’ve lived in the woods. On the day I was finally reunited with my family I was brutally raped.
I came to consciousness at the river,
I was in pain all over,
there was a lot of blood and I was so very cold.
I prayed to God
“please let me die, I don’t want to live anymore”.
Then they entered my aunt’s house…
The ‘uncontrolled’ army seized the women and dragged us by our hair to different rooms.
We have been used as sex slaves,
raped for days on end by different men.
I’ve been afraid of the light for so long.
The house where we were locked up had no electricity.
I was without clothes for days with my children by my sight,
Afraid of the light from the flashlight that I was chosen to be taken upstairs.
They hit me with broken beer bottles after they hit my head against the wall.
“I was not able to save my mother, she did not survive the sexual violence, she died of her injuries due to the brutal rape and torture.
The same hell happened to me twice, first during the Bosnian war and later the Kosovo war, only I survived.
Every day I live in this nightmare, my children are my only hope in this life.”
“Everyone hid in the old farmhouse and feared for their lives.
They found me.
I was pregnant when I was raped…
I didn’t know that at the time.”
*Names of the victims have been changed, to protect their privacy.