Rwandan Women Wait to See if Attackers are Prosecuted

A study released in the fall of 1996 has found that during the 1994 genocide which left more than 500,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda dead, attackers also raped hundreds of thousands of women. Some were impregnated, some infected with AIDS, and others were sexually mutilated. The Rwandan government and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, however, has yet to charge a single war criminal with rape. Rene Degni-Segui, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Rwanda concluded in a 1996 report that rape was used as a partner to genocide. Member of the Hutu militia and soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forces systematically raped women, “Rape was the rule and its absence the exception,” stated the report. The study found that at the very least 250,000 cases of rape occurred during the genocide. Another report, issued by the New York-based Human Rights Watch/Africa, criticized the Rwanda Tribunal for failing to bring rape indictments. The new lead prosecutor for the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals, Louise Arbour, has vowed that rape prosecutions will occur, “It is definitely on the agenda. Maybe we haven’t been sufficiently directed, but we have taken initiatives.” Though international aid has poured $572 million into Rwanda to help victims, little of that money has been used to help women who comprise approximately 70 percent of the population.


The Boston Globe - December 14, 1996

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