Former Rwandan Women’s Affairs Minister Convicted for Genocide and Rape

Trigger warning

The first woman to ever be convicted by the United Nations Tribunal has been so for ordering rape and genocide during the Rwandan conflict that resulted in 800,000 deaths and at least 250,000 women raped, reports Jezebel. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was also the minister in Rwanda for women and family affairs:

Known throughout the country as simply “Pauline,” in 1994 she presided over a brutal trick in Butare, her hometown: luring Tutsis to a stadium on the promise of Red Cross assistance, then slaughtering them. She appears to have a had a particular obsession with ordering soldiers to rape and mutilate women.


In this and other atrocities, the profile continues, “Pauline had led the soldiers to see rape as a reward.” One woman who witnessed incomprehensible atrocities heard soldiers tell the women they were raping with machetes and spears, ”We are doing what was ordered by Pauline Nyiramasuhuko.”

A devastating reminder that women are just as capable of brutality and violence — and against other women.

Join the Conversation

  • Olivia Baxter

    It is, unfortunately, both shocking and not that this woman engaged in ordering the brutality against these victims. While this is a heartbreaking and extreme case, it seems that this is the kind of thing we women see everyday. How often do you get a non-provoked dirty glance from another woman on the street? How many sitcoms thrive off female vs. female rivalry (current girlfriend vs. ex, wife vs. mother-in-law, coworker vs. coworker)? It’s a sad, and maybe realistic, motif in media today. I’m an editorial assistant at Teen Voices Magazine (, where our mission is to create positive change in media for teen girls. While I think that, yes, warped media may be partially to blame, we as women need to focus on increasing community and demolishing this innate–and I use the term loosely–sense of rivalry to one another. Sisterhood, anyone?? I hope that this case in Rwanda, as tragic as it is, can serve as a painful example of just how necessary a sense of sisterhood is.

  • Susan Macaulay

    @Olivia: agreed!