Former Rwandan Women’s Minister Convicted of Genocide

Seventeen years after the horrific Rwandan genocide, convictions were handed down by a United Nations tribunal for the people who coordinated and executed the atrocities.  The results, unsurprisingly, were lengthy sentences or life imprisonment for those convicted, including the former minister for women and family affairs, who used political influence to abduct and murder in one district of Rwanda.  What is more unusual is that the minister is a woman named Pauline Nyiramasuhuko.  She is the first woman to be convicted of genocide by an international tribunal, disproving the myth that only men can shape horrible atrocities like the Rwandan genocide.

Her son was also convicted of organizing the massacres and serving as a militia leader, where he raped women.  Both claimed that they were innocent of all charges.  But the court found that the son, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali, staffed a roadblock which was ”the site of numerous beatings, rapes, and killings.”

According to the tribunal, Nyiramasuhuko, who was known simply as “Pauline,” ordered and assisted massacres in her home district of Butare.  She ordered women and girls to be raped and killed after they had taken refuge in a local government office.

“Hoping to find safety and security, they instead found themselves subject to abductions, rapes, and murder. The evidence…paints a clear picture of unfathomable depravity and sadism,” said the presiding judge, according to the BBC.

In 1995, Pauline told the BBC that she was incapable of committing the atrocities of which she was accused.  ”I couldn’t even kill a chicken,” she said.  ”If there is a person who says that a woman, a mother, could have killed, I’ll tell you truly then I am ready to confront that person.”

Her attempts to use her gender to escape punishment have, however, failed.  And although other women, including two nuns who were recently found guilty in Belgium for participating in the genocide, have been convicted for committing crimes against humanity and human rights abuses, the case of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko shows that just as women are capable of being firm, fearless leaders, they are also capable of terrible crimes.

Photo from Julian Hameis’ Flickr photostream.


jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago


jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago


KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago

Noted with sadness.

Shakira N.
Shakira shaik6 years ago

Xenophobia equates to a lack of humanity
When we lack humanity
We have lost our soul.
A soul less person is difficult to imagine.
A soul less nation is unimaginably difficult to comprehend.
How does a nation forget its xenophobic acts?
Whether as victims or perpetrators.
And will not the universe conspire against that nation.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Sometime it will come to pass
That past sins will be paid for.
We think too small
When we look for immediate gratification.
Surely if we waste a little time
In reflection,
We could restructure our actions to keep us humane.

Leslie C.
Leslie Cochrane6 years ago

Of course women are capable of such atrocities towards others. Women in Germany, Asia - and everywhere, throughout history, are guilty of participating in horrible acts of genocide and misogyny - but - the behavior also almost always occurs in collusion with men - or situations initiated by men. It is unusual for women to be the sole instigators of extreme crimes against masses of people. This is not to say that women are incapable of deliberate and premeditated expressions of pure hatred without provocation or support of men, just that they may not have had the opportunity to do so - as women in Africa and Asia, in particular, have lived within oppressive patriarchal societies for as long as civilization has been organized in male-dominated units. Pauline took advantage of a typical stereotype when accused - that it is impossible for a mother to do such things. Women are victimized - even by other women - because they are regarded as docile and obliging by a culture that has no respect for such qualities. Aggressive traits are defined as "strong and "manly", which are the preferred attributes in a society in which men feel helpless and believe the only way to empower themselves is through the subjugation of women and contempt for the concept of parental-type love and kindness.

Laurie D.
Laurie D6 years ago

Anyone who DIDN'T believe women capable of this horrid behavior has just bought into the subjugation of the gender's group as a whole. Do we really believe one gender to be all "Sugar and SPICE???" That being said, let's hope the punishment fits the crimes for this mother and son! Sounds as though they are hideous monsters!

Rose F.
Rose F6 years ago

Sad very, sad. Have we learned anything?

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert6 years ago

How sad, how painful to read of any person, whether man or woman, who has so much disconnected from their heart and their own source of love that they could even contemplate committing, condoning or concealing such abuse.
We need so much more love and light in the world to help it return to the beauty it was originally intended to express and which we were all originally supposed to manifest and share.

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

Unbelievable the women can do this to other women she must be sick and sadist she should be sent to jail for life

Mulitti Mosisa
Mulitti Mosisa6 years ago

yes, it's not amazing for me the Un takes seventeen years to reach the verdict. a kind of evil persons like Pauline can give sweet talks about their innocence. i live in a comiunity which can pretend to be the most innocent people in the world but, the most evil one.
the leastners are judjing the innocent, and they pity the evil people who're harming others.
i want pauline to be locked for the rest of her life. and the day of the judjement for the other fellow in my comunity come soon.
i want them to be reaveled, i tried my best, buy they still run their businesses.
i know, the time will come and they'll serve their...