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Rwanda’s Female Genocidaires On Path to Reintegration

Tens of thousands of women took part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda but their role is rarely spoken about, and reconciliation with their family is hard. Journalist Natalia Ojewska has been talking to some female perpetrators in prison. What started as a mundane trip to fetch water for breakfast ended with Fortunate Mukankuranga committing murder. As she was on her way, she came across a group of attackers beating up two men in the middle of the street. Then I hit one of them and then the other one… I was one of the killers,” the 70-year-old says. Just a few days later, two terrified Tutsi children, whose parents had just been butchered with machetes, knocked on her door asking for refuge. She did not hesitate and hid them in the attic, where they survived the massacres. “Even though I have saved the children, I have failed these two men. This help will never turn the tide of guilt,” says Mukankuranga. She is one of an estimated 96,000 women convicted for their involvement in the genocide – some killed adults, like Mukankuranga, some killed children, and others egged on men to commit rape and murder. Female genocidaires who revealed the truth are encouraged to write letters to their families and relatives of their victims in order to regain the lost trust step by step.