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International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Woman is Accused of Inciting Troops & Militia to Rape 1000s of Women

April 25, 2009
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko

Yes, you did read that headline correctly. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Rwandan Minister for Women and Family Affairs, is accused of being one of the most zealous organizers for the 1994 genocide. Nyiramasuhuko is on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and is awaiting the verdict for her trial. Nyiramasuhuko ordered her son and militia to rape and kill thousands of women during the Rwanda genocide.

In 2002, Peter Landesman wrote an article in the New York Times about Nyiramasuhuko entitled “A Woman’s Work” about her role in the genocide. Landesman talks to many people surrounding her while she was committing these heinous crimes. One woman named Rose, who sought refuge in a hospital where she witnessed first-hand militia raping and killing women, said that:

They [militia] said that Pauline had given them permission to go after the Tutsi girls, who were too proud of themselves. She was the minister, so they said they were free to do it.

Landesman states later that, “Pauline had led the soldiers to see rape as a reward.” I want to point out that Pauline Nyiramasuhuko is the only woman on trial before the ICTR for raping and killing women. To be honest, when I first read the headline, I thought to myself, “How could a woman incite rape?” but realized I was being sexist to my own gender. I always “expect” rape to be committed by a man, and in most cases, it is. Granted,  Nyiramasuhuko did not rape any of these women, but inciting rape on others is just as bad as committing the action. Therefore, this crime should not be treated any differently than if she were a man. We shouldn’t expect that women are at a higher ground because they are the victims of rape. No matter how you cut it, a crime is a crime and should not be treated differently.

To learn more about the Rwanda genocide, click here and to read more about Nyiramasuhuko’s trial, click here.

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