Rape victims of Rwandan genocide lead shattered lives

December 11th, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Dec 11 (IANS) Hutu troops raped a quarter million women and girls systematically during the Rwandan genodice in 1994, after being ordered by their superiors.While rape is always a matter of regulating power relations between the sexes, some differences exist between rape during peace and wartime.

Researchers garnered focusing on what happened in the lives of the women and what was important about their experiences.

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.

Donatilla Mukamana, who heads the mental health department, Kigali Health Institute, Rwanda and Petra Brysiewicz, University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa (research supervisor), interviewed seven women who were raped during the 1994 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, according to a release of Kigali Institute.

They 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.

Their study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

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