Experiences of rape unique to Rwandan women survivors of genocide

December 10, 2008

Durban, South Africa - December 10, 2008 - In recent conflicts, most notably in Rwanda, women and girls have been systematically raped as a policy of war. During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, Hutu leaders ordered their troops to rape Tutsi women as part of their genocidal campaign. United Nations' officials estimated that a quarter of a million women were raped and subjected to sexual violence on a massive scale. A new study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship explores the lived experience of women who were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and finds many themes unique to Rwandan women survivors.

While rape is always a matter of regulating power relations between the sexes, some differences exist between rape in peacetime and wartime. Donatilla Mukamana, Head of Mental Health Department, Kigali Health Institute, Rwanda (and Masters degree student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Petra Brysiewicz, Ph.D.,of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa (research supervisor), interviewed seven women who were raped during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The researchers gathered data that were focused on what happened in the lives of the women and what was important about their experiences.

The participants reported many themes specific to the rape victims who survived the Rwandan genocide.

The women felt violated by perceived inferiors as well as a loss of dignity and respect. To be a woman in Rwandan society implies respect from all members of the community. Women were humiliated by public rape, which was carried out in the community by those who were supposed to respect them.

The women felt a loss of identity, loss of hope for the future, and social isolation. In Rwanda, rape and other gender-based violations carry a severe social stigma. Children resulting from rape were seen as being difficult to integrate into Rwandan society and were a source of conflict since they were a constant reminder of what happened during the genocide. The genocide also destroyed support networks because participants lost many members of their community and family.

Bringing rape survivors together in an association like AVEGA (Association of the Widows of the Genocide of April) allows them to recreate a community for themselves. AVEGA helped participants overcome their sense of isolation and gave them medical, psychological, and material help.

The results can help nurses to understand war and rape, and thus have needed information which can be used to offer assistance to women in these circumstances. "It is hoped that the information regarding the women's actual experiences will create awareness and some understanding of what these women endured," the authors conclude.
-end-
This study is published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Petra Brysiewicz, Ph.D., is affiliated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and can be reached for questions at brysiewiczp@ukzn.ac.za.

Reaching health professionals, faculty and students in 90 countries, the Journal of Nursing Scholarship is focused on health of people throughout the world. It is the official journal of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and reflects the honor society's dedication to providing the tools necessary to improve nursing care globally.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

Wiley

Related Genocide Articles from Brightsurf:

New study explains 'miracle' of how the Warsaw Ghetto beat Typhus
Through state-of-the-art mathematical modelling and historical documents, a new study points to community health programs and social distancing practices as the most likely explanations for the epidemic's sudden and mysterious collapse, which was hailed by survivors at the time as a miracle.

Maize, not metal, key to native settlements' history in NY
New Cornell University research is producing a more accurate historical timeline for the occupation of Native American sites in upstate New York, based on radiocarbon dating of organic materials and statistical modeling.

Aboriginal scars from frontier wars
Hundreds of Aboriginal men who became native mounted police in colonial Australia carried a significant burden of responsibility for law and order for white settlers in Queensland and other settlements.

Carnegie Mellon leverages AI to give voice to the voiceless
Refugees are often the target of hate speech on social media, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are now leveraging artificial intelligence to identify and highlight sympathetic and supportive social media posts.

Parental CPTSD increases transmission of trauma to offspring of Tutsi genocide survivors
Nearly 25 years after the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda took the lives of up to one million victims, the offspring of Tutsi survivors, who weren't even born at the time, are among those most affected by trauma, according to a new study published by researchers at Bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with a Rwandan therapist and genocide survivor.

A quarter of all Holocaust victims were murdered during only three months
The majority of deaths during the single largest murder campaign of the Holocaust, called Operation Reinhard, occurred during a single three-month period, a new study reveals.

New global migration estimates show rates steady since 1990, high return migration
Two University of Washington scientists have unveiled a new statistical method for estimating migration flows between countries.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Who becomes a hero? It is more than just a personality trait
We tend to think of heroes in terms of a psychological profile: brave, altruistic, strong.

Following ISIS captivity, Yazidi women suffering from high percentage of C-PTSD
From what long-term psychological effects are Yazidi women suffering after being captured, raped, beaten, and locked away by ISIS?

Read More: Genocide News and Genocide Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.