Coalition for Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations

Sexual violence in Cyangugu: a testimonial

By Monique Kankera

Monique Kankera is a member of AVEGA-Cyangugu, an organisation that works with widows in that area of Rwanda. Monique supported the efforts of the Coalition, and with her collegues, shares the experiences of these women with us.

Experiences of Victims of Sexual Violence, Perspectives on the Process of the Amicus Curiae and the Opinion of Women Members of AVEGA in Cyangugu, Rwanda

To cite only a few examples:

All of these women are waiting for justice to be served in order for them to feel at least a sense of moral relief; they call on the international community, accomplices in the genocide, to come to their aid.

They are destitute and without any assistance, and AVEGA is worried about their eminent death. In short, the priority for these women is psycho-social and medical help.

Concerning the amicus curiae, we are satisfied by the steps taken by the Coalition of NGOs for the Rights of Women in Armed Conflict Situations, and hope that the amicus will be accepted by the ICTR in Arusha!

The members of AVEGA in Cyangugu forcefully condemn the acts of rape and sexual torture that were perpetrated against the women and girls of Cyangugu, and ask the ICTR to establish criminal and civil liability for the leaders of genocide in Cyangugu: Bagambiki, Imanishimwe and Ntagerura.

It would be unfortunate for the ICTR not to condemn the leaders of the genocide in Cyangugu on charges of rape. In essence, rape was used as a tool of genocide not only Cyangugu, but everywhere in Rwanda! The perpetrators of rape participated in one way or another, either through their political position, or by ordering, commanding, planning and executing rapes. In short, women were the spoils of war!

In conclusion, the AVEGA team is willing to collaborate with anyone who wants to defend human rights, particularly those of women.

Those who collaborated on this article include:

Certainly, advances have been made in recognizing women’s rights. The legal framework is increasingly responsive to the experiences of women and girls in conflict, especially in cases of sexual violence, as we have seen in the important work being carried out by the international criminal tribunals. But there remains much to be done, particularly to improve prevention and to combat impunity.

-- Kofi Annan
October 28, 2002