In 2008, Save the Children released the study “No one to turn to”, in which they explored allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by UN peacekeepers and employees of international aid organizations.
According to this organization, soldiers of peacekeeping forces garner influence in the communities in which they are serving, especially over children and youth.
Marcel Kolvenbach and Pagonis Pagonakis helmed the documentary feature No Place to Hide, which provides testimonies of rape victims in the Congo.
“They took us to a small house. There they tore off our clothes and raped my friend and me. I was only 17 years old and still a virgin”, says Joari. The shocking thing: Joari and her friend were allegedly raped by the people who were meant to protect them: UN peacekeepers.
20.000 UN peacekeeping troops were sent to bring stability to the Eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a war was raging between rebels and government forces. They were meant to protect civilians from assaults and sexual violence. But some of the saviours turned into perpetrators, who abusee the helplessness and the extreme poverty of girls and women.
In this film, victims of UN soldiers speak out for the first time about the abuse they suffered. The film also documents how the UN Headquarters in New York has known about the sexual assault problem for a long time. By training their staff and introducing a “zero tolerance policy”, the UN tries to combat these incidents. The official line is that the number of assaults has been reduced drastically. However, UN insiders say: “On the ground, these measures have no effect at all”.
The documentary filmmaker Marcel Kolvenbach mainly based his work on political documentaries both in Germany and abroad. Along with co-director Pagonis Pagonakis, he received the Human Rights Award from the German Film Academy for his film Death in the Cell. Pagonakis is now a permanent member of the jury of these Awards and was a member of the jury for the 2010 International Amnesty Film Award at the Berlinale.