No Choice: Reporting on Sexual Violence in Refugee Contexts

Virtual event


September 2, 2021
10:00–11:15AM EDT

Join VII Insider
Portrait of Grace, 17, [not her real name], her three-year-old daughter, and her 14-year-old sister, in the church she sings at in Kyangwali refugee settlement, Uganda, on June 5, 2019. Photo: Nichole Sobecki/VII

Sexual violence punctures the lives of women in every conflict and crisis zone across the globe. Yet the women in these crisis areas who become pregnant from rape are almost universally unable to obtain safe abortions, even when they are legally entitled to them. As global crises escalate and refugee situations become ever more protracted, this problem only becomes more significant for a greater share of the world’s women, who often turn to unsafe self-induced procedures, risking their lives and health and driving up rates of maternal mortality. 

Photographer Nichole Sobecki and writer Jill Filipovic have reported this story (their most recent publication was in the New York Review of Books) from Colombia, Bangladesh, Honduras and Uganda, each of which illustrates a different aspect of this overlooked global health emergency. 

In this event, Nichole and Jill will present their reporting on the issue, and discuss what they consider to be the most effective ways to tell this story. How can the trauma of women’s experience be visualised respectfully? How, when injustice needs to be witnessed, do reporters navigate the issue of what can and cannot be shown? And how do these considerations translate into a story with visual impact?

Jill Filipovic

Jill Filipovic is an award-winning journalist, lawyer, and author of OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind and The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness. A weekly columnist for CNN and a 2019 New America Future of War fellow, she is also a former contributing opinion writer to The New York Times and a former columnist for The Guardian.

Nichole Sobecki

, Nairobi

Nichole Sobecki is an American photographer and filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating from Tufts University, Nichole spent the early years of her career in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria, focusing on regional issues related to identity, conflict, and human rights. From 2012-2015, she led Agence France-Presse’s East Africa video bureau and was a 2014 Rory Peck Awards News Finalist for her coverage of the Westgate mall attacks in Kenya. Nichole’s work has been recognized by Pictures of the Year, the One World Media Awards, the Alexandra Boulat Award for Photojournalism, The Magenta Foundation, and The Jacob Burns Film Center, among others, and her work has been exhibited internationally.

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