Sunday, July 04, 2010

Rwandan Genocide Rape Victims Grateful for Children Conceived in Rape

KIGALI, Rwanda, June 30, 2010 ( - The tribal genocide of 1994 in Rwanda resulted in more than 800,000 Rwandan deaths and countless women suffering rape at the hands of the Hutu militia who were ordered to kill off the country's minority Tutsi tribe.

Now, 16 years later, the children of the raped women are facing the reality of how they were conceived. They and their mothers are looking for acceptance in a society that is still healing from the horrors of the past.

One Tutsi woman who barely escaped with her life after having been raped on three different occasions by several assailants, told the BBC in a special report that she is deeply thankful for her daughter, despite the circumstances of her conception. She said there was never a time when she did not love her.

And no, not all women love their babies at first:

But now, thanks to the support of other survivors of rape, his mother has learned to separate her son from the hatred she feels for those who raped her.

"I saw him as a killer, a son of a killer - but, of course, he was innocent, it wasn't him who did these things. I found other women who had similar problems as me. I didn't know that there were others who suffered the same. I thought I was alone," she says.

"So now I've changed. Now he sees that I'm close to him. We go out together. We walk around in Kigali."

In the West, we have the reflex of thinking all babies conceived in rape will be aborted. We think of the horror of the act, and suspect that the child will always evoke that horror.

Here's what people forget.

People can and do change their feelings.

Victims of sexual assault do sometimes forgive their attackers. In some circumstances, they even develop good relationships with them.

Forgiveness exists.

Forgiveness doesn't mean you deny what happened was wrong. It simply means you move on. It means you direct your will and your emotional life in such a way that you no longer harbour anger and resentment so that you're set free.

People do that.

A mother of baby conceived in rape is not condemned to hate her child if she chooses. She is not condemned to relive the horror.

There is freedom from the past.

PS: I'm still really busy because of the move. I suspect it will be this way for many weeks.