Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Rwanda’s Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs, is the first woman to ever be charged with rape as a crime against humanity. At the International Tribunal in Arusha, Pauline faces 11 charges including crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. In addition, she is the first woman to be charged with these crimes in an international court.
At least 800,000 people were killed and an estimated 250,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A man who partook in the slaughter of Tutsi women told a New York Times reporter that Nyiramasuhuko commanded the Interhamwe to rape the Tutsi women before they killed them. Many of these women were mutilated with spears, bottles and machetes, according to the Times. In addition, the Rwandan government used AIDS as a tool of warfare against Tutsi women by taking AIDS patients out of hospitals to fight as battalions of rapists.
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.