A Guest Post by Milena Adamczewska
Ten years ago, the book ”The Men who killed me” was published. It gave 17 of the survivors (16 women and one man) a stage upon which they could share their photos, harrowing experiences, and narrative with the world, to bear witness to the crimes committed against hundreds of thousands of others.
In their strength and courage, they challenge the stigma of surviving sexual violence and living with HIV/AIDS.
Their stories have impacted people worldwide to the extent that it has motivated them to actively make a change in addressing conflict-related sexual violence or to speak out about their own experiences of sexual violence.
In the hundred days of genocide that ravaged Rwanda between April and July 1994, thousands of women and girls were raped. No one was spared. Grandmothers were raped in the presence of their grandchildren; young girls watched the massacre of their families before being taken as sex slaves. Boys and men too fell victim to sexual atrocities.
The sexual violence during the genocide was extreme, systemic and used as a very effective instrument to destroy an ethnic group. Those, who survived, are a living testament to our collective abandonment of them. But they also represent the promise of a transformative change, the voice that we should listen to and spread further.
Now, in light of the upcoming 25th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi (April 2019), it is the survivors’ wish to put forth an updated edition of the book to show how their lives have unfolded in the past 10 years (see the statement of Marie Claire in the video below).
“The testimonials in ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ have significantly deepened my understanding and compassion for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. The haunting details of their experiences are unforgettable. To learn how their lives have changed since the first edition of this book motivates readers to continue working to support survivors in their journeys of healing.” – Samantha Strewchuk (undergraduate student, University of Winnipeg, Canada)
The survivors will be able to do so with the support of IMPACT, a Netherlands based organization working against human trafficking and conflict-related sexual violence, founded by Eefje de Volder and Anne-Marie de Brouwer.
In this project, IMPACT works together with the survivors in the book, the Rwandan organization Solace Ministries, Samer Muscati (Toronto University), Sandra Ka Hon Chu, and Wolf Legal Publishers; all previously involved in the coming together of the first edition of the book.
In addition to the 2nd edition of the book, the partners will develop online educational materials on conflict-related sexual violence and justice, that can be used as an interactive platform for course materials in universities and schools (including video footage of interviews with survivors), to contribute to the awareness and prevention of conflict-related sexual violence worldwide.
The lives of some survivors have changed for the better and adding new content to the book and having online educational materials available will inform people all over the world of the survivors’ journey and struggles in their lives as well as their extraordinary strength, courage, and resilience.
Four out of the 17 survivors have sadly deceased due to the consequences of the sexual violence that had been inflicted upon them; a heart-breaking reality of the genocide that unfortunately also needs to be given attention. The other survivors still need our support, thus proceeds of the book will go to them, so that they can continue to build themselves a better future by, for instance, setting up their own businesses or providing education for their children.
To republish the book and create the educational platform on conflict-related sexual violence, IMPACT is currently running a crowdfunding campaign.
It is possible to back the campaign via their website https://www.impact-now.org/product/crowdfunding/. Donations of an indicated amount will be rewarded with gifts – postcards, prints of photos, bags of Rwandan Bèekske coffee, free books and access to the interactive educational platform.
Milena Adamczewska is a Research Assistant at IMPACT