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

31-03-2010 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 877, by 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. 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.

  Nicole Hogg is a former legal adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Pacific region. She has a Master of Laws from McGill University, for   which her thesis research involved extensive interviews in Rwanda, including with 71detained female genocide suspects.  

Abstract 
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 genociderelated 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.  


 
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