Survivor stories

‘My father, the rapist’: Hidden victims of Rwanda’s genocide

Rape kids

Carine and her son Jean-Pierre, one of the thousands born as a result of rape during the genocide

A 24-year-old Rwandan whose mother was raped in the genocide tells the BBC how he came to learn of the circumstances of his birth. “My son kept asking who his father was. But among 100 men or more who raped me, I could not tell the father.” Click here to read this moving story as it appeared on the BBC today.

…It is not easy for those involved to recall the events – even a quarter of a century later. Hearing Carine’s story, it is clear why she waited until her son was old enough to hear the truth.

She was about the same age as him the first time she was raped, one of the hundreds of thousands mainly Tutsi women and girls believed to have been sexually assaulted by Hutu neighbors, militia and soldiers.

The genocide had just begun, and she was still bleeding from two machete wounds on either side of her face – wounds which still make it hard to eat and speak today.

Her assailants – people who had once been part of the same community – had dragged her to the edge of a pit where they were dumping the bodies of the men, women, and children they had just systematically murdered in a school.

But despite her wounds, despite the pain, Carine knew she did not want to die. She also knew she did not want to die when a group of soldiers sexually assaulted her with small trees and sticks just hours later, causing unimaginable damage.

It was only when another group attacked her, biting her all over her body, she decided she no longer wanted to live. 

“Now I wanted to die soon. I wanted to die so many times.” 

But her ordeal had only just begun: the hospital which tried to save her life was quickly overrun by Hutu militia.

“I couldn’t run away.

I couldn’t go because everything was broken,” she says.

“Whoever wanted to have sex with me could. If the perpetrators wanted to urinate, they could come and do it on me.”

It was only when the hospital was liberated by the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front that Carine finally got the treatment she needed, and was allowed to return home to her village – weak, broken, bleeding, but alive…

So when the doctors discovered she was pregnant, they were shocked…

Click here to read this moving story as it appeared on the BBC today.

Source:  BBC/world/Africa on June 19, 2019.

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