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Women's participation in the Rwandan genocide: mothers or monsters?


Hogg, Nicole. 2010. “Women’s Participation in the Rwandan Genocide: Mothers or Monsters?” International Review of the Red Cross 92 (877): 69–102.

Author: Nicole Hogg


The participation of women in the 1994 Rwandan genocide should be considered in the context of gender relations in pre-genocide Rwandan society. Many 'ordinary' women were involved in the genocide but, overall, committed significantly fewer acts of overt violence than men. Owing to the indirect nature of women's crimes, combined with male 'chivalry', women may be under-represented among those pursued for genocide related crimes, despite the broad conception of complicity in Rwanda's Gacaca Law. Women in leadership positions played a particularly important role in the genocide, and gendered imagery, including of the 'evil woman' or 'monster', is often at play in their encounters with the law.

Topics: Gender, Women, Genocide, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Impunity Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2010

'Ndabaga' Folktale Revisited: (De)constructing Masculinity in the Post-Genocide Rwandan Society


Gallimore, Rangira Béa. 2010. “‘Ndabaga’ Folktale Revisited: (De)constructing Masculinity in the Post-Genocide Rwandan Society.” In Masculinities in African Literary and Cultural Texts, edited by Helen Nabasuta Mugambi and Tuzyline Jita Allan. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.


Author: Rangira Béa Gallimore

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Genocide, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2010

Trying International Crimes on Local Lawns: The Adjudication of Genocide Sexual Violence Crimes in Rwanda's Gacaca Courts


Amick, Emily. 2011. “Trying International Crimes on Local Lawns: The Adjudication of Genocide Sexual Violence Crimes in Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts.” Columbia Journal of Gender & Law 20 (2).

Author: Emily Amick


During the Rwandan genocide sexual violence was used as a weapon of war to ravage a people. Women were tortured psychologically, physically and emotionally. For some women the “dark carnival” of the genocide has not ended. Living side by sidewith the men who committed violence against them, they must confront their past every day. This Article explores how, post-genocide, the country has come to adjudicate these crimes in gacaca. Gacaca is a unique method of transitional justice, one that calls upon traditional roots, bringing community members together to find the truth of what happened during the genocide and punish those who perpetrated violence. One scholar calls gacaca, “one of the boldest and most original ‘legal-social’ experiments ever attempted in the field of transitional justice.” Others, however, criticize gacaca for the impunity it grants to crimes committed by the current ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and its lack of due process and nonconformance to international fair trial processes. Most authors find that, for cases of sexual violence, gacaca is a wholly unsuitable forum.

Topics: Gender, Genocide, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Reparations, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Women, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2011

Ending gender-based violence through grassroots women's empowerment: Lessons from post-1994 Rwanda


Cherry, Janet, and Celestin Hategekimana. 2013. “Ending Gender-Based Violence Through Grassroots Women’s Empowerment: Lessons From Post
1994 Rwanda.” Agenda: Empowering Women For Gender Equity 27 (1): 100–113. doi:10.1080/10130950.2013.793895.


Authors: Janet Cherry, Celestin Hategekimana


Recent research in Rwanda has revealed positive findings regarding the combating of gender-based violence. Rwanda is notorious for the 1994 genocide which involved not only extreme violence in the killing of over 800 000 people, but in the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war. A recent study of women's involvement in cooperatives in the former Mayaga1 region comes to the tentative conclusion that there is a correlation between women attaining a measure of economic independence, and a drop in gender-based violence. Close analysis of the context of this success suggests that it is based in two complementary strategies: a ‘bottom-up’ process of women's empowerment at local level, and a concerted programme of security sector reform – involving men as well as women – focussing on reducing gender-based violence. Linking the two is a range of institutions and organisations which provide for grassroots involvement of women in monitoring, policing and conflict management as well as economic empowerment.
Given the horrifying levels of gender-based violence in certain African countries, in particular South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it is worthwhile to analyse the significance of the case study of the former Mayaga region of Rwanda. The Article concludes that there are lessons that can be generalised to South Africa and other countries, both from the relatively successful cooperative strategies adopted in Rwanda and from the strategies for addressing gender-based violence.

Keywords: gender based violence, cooperatives, women's empowerment, Rwanda

Topics: Armed Conflict, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Genocide, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2013

Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide


Brown, Sara E. 2014. “Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (3): 448–69. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.788806.

Author: Sara E. Brown


This article explores and analyzes the role of women who exercised agency as perpetrators during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Genocide narratives traditionally cast women as victims, and many women did suffer horrific abuses and become victims of torture in Rwanda. However, this gender-based characterization of women is inaccurate and incomplete. After presenting a multidisciplinary body of literature relevant to female agency during genocide, this article explores three core questions related to female agency during the Rwandan genocide. It discusses how women were mobilized before and during the genocide, the specific actions of women who exercised agency and finally what happened to these women in the aftermath of the genocide. This article is based upon research that was gathered by the author and includes interviews of female perpetrators as well as victims and witnesses of direct violence committed by women. The article asserts that women played an active role in the Rwandan genocide but are often excluded from the dominant narrative. This article also addresses the implications of ignoring female perpetrators of genocide. It suggests that such an oversight may have a detrimental impact on the long-term peace and stability in post-genocide Rwanda.

Keywords: gender studies, genocide, perpetrators, Rwanda, women

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2014

Gendered Violence: Continuities and Transformation in the Aftermath of Conflict in Africa


Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla, Jennifer Fish, and Tamara Shefer. 2014. “Gendered Violence: Continuities and Transformation in the Aftermath of Conflict in Africa.” Signs 40 (1): 81–99. doi:10.1086/676979.


Authors: Jennifer Fish, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Tamara Shefer


This thematic cluster of essays, titled “Gendered Violence: Continuities and Transformation in the Aftermath of Conflict in Africa,” focuses on the continuities between regimes of violence during organized political conflict and persisting violence against women in the postconflict era of democratic governance. The genesis for this collection evolved out of an international symposium organized by the first author of this introduction, in August 2011. The aim of the symposium was to explore African women’s experiences in the aftermath of mass violence and genocide—both in terms of their victimhood and their agency—and their positioning in the broader context of their social, cultural, and political engagement after the official ending of hostilities. In this introduction, we consider the multiple violations that women have suffered in recent conflicts and genocide on the African continent, and which they continue to suffer long after the violent conflict has ended. We explore the plurality of women’s experiences in the wake of political violence and in its aftermath—their simultaneous experiences of trauma and victimhood, their agency and empowerment, and their solidarity in standing together in their woundedness to rebuild their communities.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Genocide, Post-Conflict, Violence Regions: Africa

Year: 2014

Engendering Genocide: Gender, Conflict and Violence


Gangoli, Geetanjali. 2006. “Engendering Genocide: Gender, Conflict and Violence.” Women’s Studies International Forum 29 (5): 534–8.

Author: Geetanjali Gangoli


Thematic connections between gender, conflict and violence are significant areas of enquiry in recent times. Engendering conflict has been of some concern to academics, given the context of national and international conflict in areas as diverse as Bosnia, Iraq, India, the UK and the USA. The conflicts have taken forms as varied as internal conflicts between religious and ethnic communities in different parts of the world, acts of aggression against sovereign states, terrorist attacks and the global 'war against terror', the stigmatisation and demonisation of the Muslim community. All these factors impact on, and are impacted by gender.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, Violence

Year: 2006

Promises of Peace and Development: Mining and Violence in Guatemala


Caxaj, C. Susana, Helene Berman, Jean-Paul Restoule, Colleen Varcoe, and Susan L. Ray. 2013. "Promises of Peace and Development: Mining and Violence in Guatemala." Advances in Nursing Science 36 (3): 213-28.

Authors: C. Susana Caxaj, Helene Berman, Jean-Paul Restoule, Colleen Varcoe, Susan L. Ray


For Indigenous peoples of Guatemala, mining is experienced within a lingering legacy of colonialism and genocide. Here, we discuss macro-level findings of a larger study, examining the lived context of a mining-affected community in Guatemala and barriers that this poses to peace. Using an anticolonial narrative methodology, guided by participatory action research principles, we interviewed 54 participants. Their accounts pointed to intersecting and ongoing forces of poverty, dispossession, gendered oppression, genocide, and global inequity were exacerbated and triggered by local mining operations. This context posed profound threats to community well-being and signals a call to action for nurses and other global actors.

Keywords: colonialism, conflict, dispossession, indigenous health, mining, peace, poverty

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Poverty, Extractive Industries, Gender, Genocide, Health, Indigenous, Rights, Indigenous Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2013

A Calamity in the Neighborhood: Women’s Participation in the Rwandan Genocide


Adler, Reva N., Cyanne E. Loyle, and Judith Globerman. 2007. “A Calamity in the Neighborhood: Women’s Participation in the Rwandan Genocide." Genocide Studies and Prevention 2 (3): 209-33.

Authors: Reva N. Adler, Cyanne E. Loyle, Judith Globerman


Although public-health-based violence-prevention trials have been successful in a variety of high-risk settings, no study has addressed the prevention of genocide, a form of population-based catastrophic violence. In addition, little is known about women who participate in genocide, including women’s motivations for active participation in hands-on battery, assault, or murder. In order to explain why women assaulted or murdered targeted victims during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, we interviewed ten Rwandan female genocide perpetrators living in prisons and communities in six Rwandan provinces in 2005. Respondents’ narratives reveal two distinct pictures of life in Rwanda, separated by an abrupt transition: Life prior to 6 April 1994 and Life during the 1994 genocide (6 April–15 July 1994). In addition, respondents described four experiential pressures that shaped their choices to participate in the 1994 genocide: (1) a disaster mentality; (2) fear of the new social order; (3) confusion or ambivalence about events on the ground; and (4) consonance and dissonance with gender roles. The unique combination of these factors that motivated each female genocide participant in Rwanda in 1994 would shift and evolve with new situations. These findings may have implications for understanding and preventing catastrophic violence in other high-risk jurisdictions.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Genocide, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2007


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