Foreword by Stephen Lewis
1. The Roots of Sexual Violence in Rwanda
2. Testimonials (excerpts from 3 of 17 testimonials)
“When I reflect on my lost childhood, I have a feeling of such extreme sadness. I lament whenever I remember all the dreams that I once cherished and are now forever lost. I lament when I remember all those men who repeatedly raped me during the genocide, those same men who broke and destroyed me and every single aspect of my life. Those same men killed me, slowly but very effectively.”
• Hyacintha Nirere
“I was only twelve years old when I was brutally raped during the genocide, at different times by different men. Because of the events that occurred in those months, I never got the chance to live my life as I had wished …. I became a woman without even having a chance to be a girl.
I did not know anything about sex; my parents never explained anything to me. I was not prepared to become a mother and take care of a baby.”
• Marie Mukabatsinda
“I want you to know that the horrors people inflicted during the genocide are more than any human being can endure. For a long time after, I despised myself for what had happened to me.
I hated everything that surrounded me, because it reminded me of what I had lost. I used to think that I would rather be dead than living with HIV, but I have received comfort from a charity that also provides me with antiretroviral treatment and food. I know now that I can continue to live with HIV.”
3. Life after “Death”
Afterword by Eve Ensler
What You Can Do
In the 100 days of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that ravaged the small Central African nation of Rwanda from April until July 1994, about one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed and an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped. According to a UN report, rape was the rule and its absence the exception. No one was spared.
Grandmothers were raped in front of their grandchildren; girls witnessed their families massacred before being taken as sex slaves; fathers were forced to have sex with their daughters.
Almost all women who survived the genocide were victims of sexual violence or were profoundly affected by it. Sixteen years after the genocide, the monumental impact of the sexual violence endured by survivors continues to threaten their daily survival, as an astounding 70% are HIV-positive.
Yet, despite numerous accounts of the genocide, including coverage about perpetrators standing trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the voices of rape survivors have been notably absent.
As colleagues at an international women’s rights organization in The Hague, Anne-Marie and Sandra worked closely on a variety of issues related to sexual violence in war.
Rwanda was a frequent topic of conversation, for Anne-Marie had visited and worked in Rwanda over the years, and had developed a deep friendship with a young Rwandan woman who had survived traumatic sexual violence during the genocide.
Their friend Samer, a Canadian lawyer and a freelance photographer, had also worked in Rwanda and shared their interest in the country. Over many conversations about the plight of Rwandan survivors of sexual violence, the idea of this book was born.
In 2007 and 2008, we visited Solace Ministries, a survivor-run grassroots organization in Kigali that works with widows and orphans of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, offering food, housing, HIV medication, counselling, income-generating projects and spiritual care, to meet with survivors and work on their testimonials.
Throughout the process, the awe-inspiring staff of Solace Ministries were on hand to assist with translation and, if necessary, with counselling.
Once the interviews were complete, Samer travelled across Rwanda photographing survivors in their homes and areas where they experienced the genocide.
With financial assistance from Cordaid, this work has culminated in “The Men Who Killed Me”, a book featuring testimonials and portraits of sixteen women and one man who survived sexual violence during the Rwandan genocide.
Our proceeds from this book will go to Mukomeze (Kinyarwanda for “empower her”), a non-profit organization established to raise awareness of and funds for women and girls who suffered sexual violence during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.