Understanding the innermost nature of genocidal rape: A community-based approach
Apart from massive participation of ordinary citizens in killings during the genocide against the Tutsi, another truth revealed by the Gacaca courts is that rape of Tutsi women had become an “ordinary” behavior praised by murderers. What is more shocking is that perpetrators relied on atypical behaviors such as the rape of neighbors‟ wives and children, the rape of mothers and daughters in the same place, the rape of old women by young boys, the mutilation of victims‟ genital organs, etc. Why did the perpetrators break such ordinarily existing references regarding such “sanctified” behavior in African cultures and did not feel guilty afterwards? This article shows that existing explanations of wartime rapes that are the biosocial, cultural and war strategy approaches do not capture sufficiently the innermost nature of genocidal rape. It proposes a new theoretical framework, the community-based approach, and confronts its premises with the real-life experiences of forty survivors. With regard to results, the uniqueness of genocidal rape is observed at three levels: the deliberate breaking of societal norms, values, rules and taboos making sense of normality in sexual intercourse, the refusal of any link with the victim recalling togetherness, and the dismissal of humanity characterized by a total lack of guilt.
Key words: genocidal rape, normality, togetherness, humanity, community-based approach, Rwanda