Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Rwandan minister for women and family affairs, is the first woman to be convicted of genocide by the United Nations Chamber of the Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). ICTR found Nyiramasuhuko guilty of “conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, extermination, rape, persecution and…violence to life and outrages upon personal dignity.”
During her time as the women’s minister, a role intended to advance the lives of Rwandan women and children, Nyiramasuhuko ordered and assisted soldiers in raping and killing Tutsi women and girls in her home district of Butare in southern Rwanda. She also assisted in creating Hutu militias that systematically killed Tutsi civilians.
Seventeen years after the genocide in Rwanda, Nyiramasuhuko was found guilty on 7 of the 11 charges following a 10-year trial and will face a life sentence, though she denies the charges. Her son and four other former officials were also found guilty of a range of charges.
Throughout the 1994 genocide, approximately 800,000 people were murdered and 250,000 women were raped. Rape was named a crime against humanity in 1946 by an Allied Statute covering the trials for German war crimes of World War II. However, this law was not implemented until 1995 when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia prosecuted rape as a grave crime.