Samuel Totten


Fourteen years have passed since the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, during which an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 (or more) Tutsis and moderate Hutus died at the hands of extremists Hutus. Rwanda is still in the process of recovering from the genocide, which not only resulted in vicious and mass murder but virtually destroyed the country’s infrastructure. Like any nation reconstituting itself in the aftermath of genocide, Rwanda is experiencing growing pains. Survivors continue to suffer the ill effects of what they were subjected to, witnessed, and lost. Many of the women who were raped now have AIDS. Those who gave birth to what are commonly referred to as ‘‘rape babies’’ face additional psychological turmoil and, in many cases, are ostracized by neighbors, friends, and family members. Many of the babies have been maltreated, neglected, and even left to their own devices to eke out an existence on the streets. Orphans fill orphanages, where many of the youngest children are raised by the ‘‘older’’ (often teenage) orphans. Groups of widows have banded together to provide mutual support and get back on their feet while dealing with the absence of beloved husbands and children. Many individuals are so scarred by what they experienced and witnessed that they are not able to function and carry on normal lives. The medical and social-services communities are stretched so thin in attempting to provide assistance to those in need that people often fall through the cracks or simply do not receive the treatment they need in order to fully regain their health (whether physical or psychological). Some 100,000 alleged perpetrators still remain in Rwandan prisons. Three different court systems—the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Arusha, Tanzania), the national courts of Rwanda, and gacaca (the adaptation of precolonial mediation and reconciliation processes to try, today, those who are suspected of having carried out the killing and mass rapes) are currently in operation.