Rwandan women no more: female genocidaires in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide

Erin Jessee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the current government – the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) – arrested an estimated 130,000 civilians who were suspected of having some degree of criminal responsibility in the massacres and related atrocities that had ravaged the nation. Of these, approximately 2,000 were women, a cohort that remains rarely researched through an ethnographic lens. This paper begins to address this oversight by analyzing ethnographic encounters, including formal and informal interviews and casual conversations with eight female génocidaires from around Rwanda who had confessed to or were convicted of crimes during the 1994 genocide. I find that while female génocidaires endure various forms of gender-specific discrimination for having violated taboos related to appropriate conduct for Rwandan women, low-level génocidaires – those with minimal education, wealth, and social capital – were more likely to reference experiences of gender-based discrimination, often as a means of minimizing their crimes during the 1994 genocide and asserting claims of victimization. Conversely, high-level female génocidaires – those political and social elites who helped orchestrate or incite violence – seemed more resilient to gender-based discrimination, drawing upon a range of political and historical arguments when asserting claims to victimization in the post-genocide period. This difference in narrative is likely informed by high-level female génocidaires’ active participation in the political processes that made the 1994 genocide possible, as well as historical precedence for leniency where the actions of female political elites are concerned.

Fingerprint

Genocide
Discrimination
Victimization
Crime
Political Elites
Ethnographic
Rwanda
Political Process
Tutsi
Education
Social Elite
Criminal Responsibility
Participation
Massacre
Atrocities
Taboo
Social Capital
Wealth
Cohort
Government

Keywords

  • Rwanda
  • perpetrators
  • genocide
  • gender norms
  • transitional justice
  • women
  • elite
  • génocidaire

Cite this

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title = "Rwandan women no more: female genocidaires in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide",
abstract = "Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the current government – the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) – arrested an estimated 130,000 civilians who were suspected of having some degree of criminal responsibility in the massacres and related atrocities that had ravaged the nation. Of these, approximately 2,000 were women, a cohort that remains rarely researched through an ethnographic lens. This paper begins to address this oversight by analyzing ethnographic encounters, including formal and informal interviews and casual conversations with eight female g{\'e}nocidaires from around Rwanda who had confessed to or were convicted of crimes during the 1994 genocide. I find that while female g{\'e}nocidaires endure various forms of gender-specific discrimination for having violated taboos related to appropriate conduct for Rwandan women, low-level g{\'e}nocidaires – those with minimal education, wealth, and social capital – were more likely to reference experiences of gender-based discrimination, often as a means of minimizing their crimes during the 1994 genocide and asserting claims of victimization. Conversely, high-level female g{\'e}nocidaires – those political and social elites who helped orchestrate or incite violence – seemed more resilient to gender-based discrimination, drawing upon a range of political and historical arguments when asserting claims to victimization in the post-genocide period. This difference in narrative is likely informed by high-level female g{\'e}nocidaires’ active participation in the political processes that made the 1994 genocide possible, as well as historical precedence for leniency where the actions of female political elites are concerned.",
keywords = "Rwanda, perpetrators, genocide, gender norms, transitional justice, women, elite, g{\'e}nocidaire",
author = "Erin Jessee",
note = "This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedited version of an article published in Conflict and Society. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Jessee, E. (2015). Rwandan women no more: female genocidaires in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Conflict and Society, 1, 60-80. is available online at: https://dx.doi.org10.3167/arcs.2015.010106.",
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Rwandan women no more : female genocidaires in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. / Jessee, Erin.

In: Conflict and Society, Vol. 1, 01.12.2015, p. 60-80.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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