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Intended Consequences: Genocide Mothers; Children of Rape

Intended Consequences: Genocide Mothers; Children of Rape

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Published by: api-18463045 on Oct 29, 2009
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Intended Consequences:
Genocide Mothers; Children of Rape
Photographs and Interviews by
Jonathan Torgovnik

genocide, Rwandan women were subjected to m assive


violence, perpetrated by members of the infamous


groups known as the Interahamwe. Among the survivors, those who are most isolated are the women who have borne children as a result of being raped. Their families have rejected both them and their children, compounding

unimaginable emotional distress.
\ue000An estimated 20,000 children were
conceived during the genocide in

mothers contracted HIV during the same encounters that left them pregnant. They feel they have lost their dignity, are alone and utterly powerless.

Intended Consequences chronicles the lives of these women. Their narratives are embodied in portrait photographs, audio interviews and oral reflections.

Especially now, when history is repeating itself in the Darfur region of Sudan, it is vital that these voices be heard, and that the victims and survivors of the genocide not be forgotten. Many of

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the women I\u2019ve interviewed have waited more than a decade to start healing themselves by telling their stories. \u201cI cannot really tell you how many men came to rape me,\u201d says Verena Uwingabira, now 34 and HIV-positive. \u201cI can\u2019t count them. All I know was that four months later I was pregnant. I felt so bad, I tried committing suicide twice after I was pregnant. Now I live with HIV and AIDS.\u201d

\ue000The history of Rwanda and the

history of humanity live in the experiences of these women, who are still struggling to restart their lives. By hearing their voices, one begins to grasp the legacy of the genocide.

\ue000Every survivor\u2019s experience is

unique, and the collective story they tell is no less important today than it was in 1994. Many of the women I have photographed say they were raped only after being forced to witness the murder of their families. \u201cYou alone are being allowed to live,\u201d many were told,\ue000 \u201cso that you will die of sadness.\u201d

These women have lived through unimaginable suffering, yet the future of Rwanda is largely in their hands. With a population that is 70 percent female, the country is now dependent on the women who survived the genocide to heal and rebuild the country.


"That night when the head of the militias came came to rape me, he told me I was not the first that he had raped. He was ruthless, he put a spear in my leg, he pierced my leg and forced me to be apart and he ruthlessly raped me for four hours. I stayed in that place being raped every night for six days."

Valentine, with her daughter Amelie.

"I fail in my duty as a mother because of poverty. I don\u2019t see any future for me, I sometimes look at my situation and compare myself with those people that have their families around them, and I regret why I did not die in the genocide. Up to now, I wonder why the genocide did not take my life". - Isabelle with her son Jean- Paul.

"I never loved this child. I was torn between two worlds. I forced myself to like him, but he is unlikable. The boy is too stubborn. He behaves like a street child. I don\u2019t show him that I don\u2019t like him. He is a terrible bad boy. Its not that he knows that I don\u2019t love him, its that blood in him\u2026" - Josette, and her son Thomas.

"The militias came and collected us from that room and took us behind the church to a banana plantation and then they started raping me. One of them took me as a sex object for three days. we went in a church nearby because we thought that the church was safe. All my family were killed in that church except myself." - Justine, and her Daughter Alice.

"When I realized I was pregnant, my thoughts went back to those nights, to the torture that the militiaman exposed me to. And now thinking of giving birth to a child of that man, who never showed me a slight inch of love, but brutality, I decided I was going to have an abortion.To be honest, I never felt happy. I never accepted that I\u2019m pregnant. I never felt that I\u2019m going to bring out a child that I needed." - Delphine and her daughter Sophie.

"I have two children that I got as a result of rape. I\u2019m not happy being a mother. These children distorted my life. The experience of rape distorted my ambitions. I could have been something, someone." - Beatrice and her sons Antoine and Geoffrey.

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"I cannot really tell you how many men came to rape me. I can\u2019t count them. All I saw was that four months later I was pregnant. I felt so bad, I tried committing suicide twice. I now live with HIV/AIDS which is a legacy of genocide" - Sylvina and her daughter Marianne.

"The only problem I have is providing for my son. When I think about his life, he is like a tree without branches. I am alone. I don\u2019t have any surviving relative apart from my old mother. He is my life. He is the only life I have. I love him. I like him. If I don\u2019t have him, I don\u2019t know what I would be." - Stella and her son Claude.

"When I see my daughter she reminds me of the rape, the first rape, the second rape and all the rapes that followed, I relate them to her."

"My father constantly reminded me this kid is bad, her family is bad. Her family killed my relatives, that there was no reason for me whatsoever to love that girl." - Marie and her daughter Mary (right) and her causin Jacqueline

"When I realized I'm pregnant from the rape, I started wishing to die, I thought of even committing suicide. Then I feared committing suicide and felt that I should give birth to that kid and kill it. But when I gave birth the kid was so beautiful that I developed love immediately. I couldn't kill him, I will love him." - Marie and her son I ssac.

"If there is anything that tortures me, it is the tomorrow of my son. Getting books, getting a pen, getting school uniform for him, it\u2019s providence. Sometimes he sits at home for a whole term because I have failed to get pens and books". - Bernadette and her son Faustin.

"My fianc\u00e9e was killed during the first three days of the genocide...I saw his body after being killed with a machete. I lost love. After that, insult was added to injury after being raped by many men that I didn\u2019t love. The result are those children. I never fell in love again, I never loved, I never enjoyed sex, I never enjoyed being a mother but I have accepted it. That is my situation." - Brigitte and her daughters Emmanuelle (with mother) and Ambroise and Rosette.

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