Most college students are lucky to manage the occasional self-indulgent getaway to Walden Pond or Daytona Beach. Not Inger Brinck: In 1997, the summer before her senior year, the Mary Washington College student traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
In Bosnia, she visited Sonja House, a former cafe that became a rape and death camp during the 1991-95 war in the former Yugoslavia. Perhaps as many as 80,000 Bosnian Muslim and Catholic women were imprisoned and raped at Sonja and other such camps as part of Serbia’s “ethnic cleansing” campaign against them. Interviews with female survivors of the war helped solidify Brinck’s ambitious desire to raise funds for survivors of sexual torture and violencein Bosnia and around the world.
Brinck, who lives in Takoma Park, spent the last four years putting together the Octaves Beyond Silence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women who’ve lived through gender-specific violence. Now 24 years old and the project CEO, Brinck is also executive producer of its soon-to-be-released CD, The Octaves Beyond Silence Project: A benefit for women survivors of violence. Proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit six women’s groups, including Women for Women International, Refugee Women in Development Inc., and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.
Whereas the organization supports women in practical waysby providing direct aid to victims of war crimes and other acts of violencethe Octaves Beyond Silence Project CD shares their voices. A chorus of Rwandan women sings on several tracks, and two others are collaborations between U.S. musicians and Afghan and Bosnian women. Project participants include some D.C. favorites, such as Meshell Ndegéocello and cabaret-funk trio BETTY, as well as folk-rock superstars Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls. Music in a variety of genresrock, folk, jazz, ballad, technoflanks the album’s central track, Eve Ensler’s “My Vagina Was My Village.” A harrowing description of a rape, it’s the first recorded release from Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues.
Brinck put the CD together through legwork and determination, as well as assistance from pros like Ladyslipper Music, a women-run organization based in Durham, N.C. She hopes to put her lessons to good use in future Octaves Beyond Silence projects to benefit women. “As I continued to work on Octaves,” Brinck writes in the liner notes, “I learned of other tragedies….Everywhere I turned I found examples of violence against women.” Brinck hopes that the CD will raise awareness of this violence and help put an end to it. “Sarajevo. Kabul. Central Park,” she notes. “Enough is enough.” Pamela Murray Winters
The Octaves Beyond Silence Project CD will be available Oct. 17; for more information, see www.octavesbeyondsilence.com or call Ladyslipper Music at 1(800)634-6044.