Women Genocide victims remembered

Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwamagana District recalled how rape was used as a weapon for ethnic cleansing.

Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwamagana District recalled how rape was used as a weapon for ethnic cleansing.

During the Genocide, Tutsi women in Rwamagana area were gathered in a place where they were repeatedly raped and later dumped alive in school latrines, survivors said.

The testimonies were shared  during the commemoration of women victims of the Genocide in Rwamagana on Thursday.

Survivor after another said the latrines were filled to  the brim.  Many women were left unconsciously after days of abuse.

They said thousands of women were raped, gang-raped, and saw sharp objects inserted in their private parts.

Konsesa Kayiraba, a survivor, said she was raped after witnessing the torture, and killings of her family, and the destruction and looting of their home.

“Rape was used as a weapon to terrorise and degrade Tutsi women and girls... sexual violence was used against Tutsi women as a means of dehumanising all Tutsi,” she said.

Kayiraba, one of the women who suffered sexual abuse and talks about the ordeal publicly, said some of the culprits had been her own students.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw… some of the men that raped me were my students, I had taught them a day before.

‘‘They were not strangers, but neighbours and friends subjecting me to gang rape. Sexual torture left me with permanent impairment,” she lamented.

Jeannine Uwitonze, a survivor too, said that Tutsi women had for long been used as sex objects.

“The rape and humiliation never took me by surprise; it already existed in the country indirectly.” she said.

Jean Claude Karangwa, a survivor, remembered how starting in 1990 several Kinyarwanda and French newspapers were used to fuel ethnic hatred.

Karangwa said newspapers,  like Kangura, did not only publish articles attacking the Tutsi community, but also printed graphic cartoons derogatory to Tutsi women.

 He noted that rape was used as a weapon during the Genocide, with a view to destroy individuals, families and communities.

“Tutsi women were portrayed as enemies of state, all sorts of stereotypes portrayed Tutsi women as proud and therefore deserved no mercy,’’he said.

Apart from the physical damage they sustained, many women and girls raped during the Genocide were infected with HIV.

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