Sema (Speak Out)

Sunday, March 8th
International Women’s Day
5:40 PM – 7:10 PM
Carnegie Institution for Science


* Followed by panel discussion

Sema (Speak Out)

Directed by Macherie Ekwa Bahango
Dem. Rep. of Congo / 2019 / 45 mins
Starring: Sandra Bonve and Armande Mahabi

Survivors of sexual violence in the DRC came together to write a screenplay based on their own real experiences.

 In order to create a truly powerful film, they bravely reenacted their own traumas. The survivors took on these parts consciously, realizing the benefit of artistic expression as part of the healing process. The film Sema (which means speak out in Swahili) follows the lives of two women from different backgrounds whose lives are changed forever by rape, and who must find the strength to survive and make a difference for themselves and their children.

Kimia is a devoted University student who went to fetch water one evening so that the next morning would be free to prepare for an exam. At the lake, men that looked like police came out of the bushes and attacked them. One man’s scar would forever stay in her memory…

Matumaini and other women in her village do most of the work in the household; they do chores, work the fields and take care of the children. Despite the difficult labor, the women are friends and support each other in the village. One evening as they were returning home from the fields, armed militia ambushed them with machetes. Not everyone survives the night…

Six years later, Kimia and Matumaini must find a way to overcome their traumatic past and find hope for the future.

Thanks to the support of Dr. Denis Mukwege, Panzi Hospital, the Mukwege Foundation and the courage of survivors, The National Movement of Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC was formed. The Movement is self-organised and today has nearly 3,000 members who speak out against this violence. Based on the premise that “together, their voices are stronger than silence,” they organise advocacy and awareness-raising activities to fight stigma and document what has happened to them- and ultimately, end the epidemic of sexual violence in conflict. Please find out more on the film’s website.