Giving a voice to the women in Rwanda who
experienced sexual violence during the 1994 genocide.
Her entire family was killed, and she was captured by a group of men, abused and tortured for three months. Nyira survived and she is now a single-mother of two young children, ill and unable to work. When we met her in 2012 she didn’t have a home. For shelter she used to rent a small mud hut from her neighbour and made up for rent by doing small household chores such as washing.
We partnered with Survivors Fund (SURF) to make a difference.
Learn more about this project here.
See our Indiegogo project here.
The mission of Women for Rwanda is to give a voice to the women in Rwanda who experienced sexual violence during the 1994 genocide. We seek to dissolve the stigma attached to rape by recording the testimonies of these women and getting their stories heard both in Rwanda and abroad. We campaign for gender equality by ensuring that the victims of genocidal rape are not forgotten. Women for Rwanda is dedicated to rebuilding the lives that were taken away from these women by providing simple necessities that may transform their lives, including shelter, electricity, and livestock.
Women for Rwanda was formed following a course at a London university in 2011 about the post-conflict situation of Rwanda, specifically focusing on the identity and living conditions of the female survivors of the genocide.
During the course, we conducted research and came up with a proposal for a campaign to help rural women in Rwanda by social and economic empowerment. We pitched our ideas to a UK-based charity, Aegis Trust, and received an unexpectedly positive response. Feedback from this experienced, established charity mobilised few of us to take the ideas further and put our university learning into real use.
Since the formation of Women for Rwanda we’ve been raising awareness and funds in London through various events. We now work in partnership with the Survivors Fund, and recently completed our first project together by building a house for Nyria and her family. Read more about the story here.
During the genocide, half a million of women were raped after they had first witnessed the torture and killings of their relatives and the destruction of their homes. Rape during the genocide was one of most brutal and systematic kinds in history. Rape was used as a weapon of war and as a means to dehumanize the Tutsi ethnic group.
These events alone were tremendously traumatising. Adding to the hopeless situation, the stigma of rape often leads to the woman being marginalized from society. Many women in Rwanda contracted HIV and other STDs and most are still unable to afford treatment. Poverty, segregation, and the dismissal of agency have forced these women to silence their voices. Even 22 years after the genocide, many women have been unable to heal and reintegrate back to society. This is why Women for Rwanda is passionate about getting the voices of the female survivors of rape heard.
TThe roots of the genocide lie in decades of political power struggle between the Hutus and the Tutsis, in colonial and postcolonial relations, and in a tangle of definitions of ethnic identity. Therefore, to summarize what caused the genocide is a long task. During the years leading up to the genocide the social and political environment in Rwanda grew restless because there were rumours that a Tutsi revolutionary force was grouping up in the neighbouring country Uganda. Hutu rulers became afraid of losing power, and begun steadily preparing the country for war. Learn more
Even though the 1991 Constitution of Rwanda guarantees equal opportunities for both men and women, women are restricted and limited to a wide array of opportunities outside the household. This has wider implications for women in Rwanda as it contributes to the discrimination against them in profound and systemic ways.
Years before the genocide, it was of tradition that the women were dependent from their husbands, fathers, and male children, and, they were valued by the number of male children they had. Moreover, the image of the ideal women is constructed through the frame of her maternal role. Women therefore, must be fertile, hard working, reserved, and silent. Learn More.
She had a big family. She was one of 13 children. During the spring of 1994, however, her entire family was killed. When the killings began Nyirangendahimana ran and tried to hide, but was quickly found by a group of men. They raped her but were uninterested in killing her. Once she managed to escape she carried on walking without knowing where to go. She then met a man whom she had never seen before. He took her to his house. For a moment she thought she was safe, but this man locked her in a room and kept her there for the duration of the genocide, systematically raping her every day. She said it was like “not being a woman, not like being a human being.” After the genocide the man was put to prison for killing many people. He wasn’t charged for rape. Learn More
We are always looking for enthusiastic people to help us out with various tasks, such as web development, design, public relations, event planning, or maybe even a task we don’t yet know we need! Whatever your trade, if you are inspired and want to donate your skills for a few hours, you might just be what we need to take this project one step further!
If you are inspired by what you have heard and read, please help us spread the word! Invite your friends to like us on Facebook, tweet about us, blog about us, simply e-mail us, or just use the good-old-fashioned approach of talking to your friends about Women for Rwanda.
If you would like to make a donation to WFR, please click on this Paypal link. All donations, no matter how small, are appreciated. Your donations will go towards developing our project and events. Please contact us if you would like to know more about or work, or have a specific request for what we do with your donation.