by Jan Goodwin

February 1997: The heat, the fear and the sour smell of sweat that they triggered hung heavy in the stale air of the courtroom. Every window had been bricked over because of the security risk. Witnesses and judges alike knew they risked their lives by their very presence. There was no air-conditioning, but then there was frequently no electricity, either. The reek in the courtroom mingled with the stench of the sole toilet, foul from lack of water.

A Burundian Hutu woman , age 40, who was raped and stabbed while pregnant by Tutsi soldiers almost three years ago. At the same time her husband was abducted and killed and their home set on fire with five of her six children inside. All five died. She was unable to walk for some time, but she was finally able to walk to escape Burundi. She has been living in Kenembwa refugee camp since July 1996 and has been able to receive counseling. PG Photo by Martha Rial Dec 1996

In Arusha, Tanzania, the Rwandan war-crimes tribunal was into the third year of its four-year term, and the first trial of genocide had only just begun. In the dock, Jean-Paul Akayesu was charged with giving orders for, and participating in, “crimes against humanity.” The woman nervously testifying against Akayesu was confronting him for the first time since she had allegedly witnessed the atrocities he stands accused of committing.

She told her story simply. Her slow delivery gave her words even greater impact as she waited patiently for the interpreters to repeat them in French and English, the official languages of the court. She was seven months’ pregnant in the summer of l994, when she and her neighbors fled their village. Before the slaughter began, she had managed to hide in a tree, where she stayed for several days. She came down at night to look for food. What she found instead were the bodies of her mother, her children, her sisters and brothers — their corpses thrown into a latrine pit. Then her father was killed directly beneath the tree in which she was hiding. That night she came down again to bury him because dogs were eating the bodies.

She lost track of how long she stayed in the tree, but she finally judged it safe to leave. It was then that she found her 6-year-old daughter, still alive. Together they started to escape from the area, but didn’t get far before they were caught. Her little girl was gang-raped by three men. Yes, she knew who they were. Yes, she could name them. Her sworn statement taken before the hearing mirrored the evidence she gave in court, except for the gang rape of her 6-year-old. It wasn’t included in the indictment because the investigators hadn’t asked the mother about rape.

Another witness testified that she was taken into custody and held at the municipal offices, where Akayesu was in charge. He and the police stood and watched, she said, as the armed militia dragged girls and women into the building and repeatedly raped them. In this case, two independent witnesses confirmed the sexual violence against the women, but Akayesu has not been charged with giving orders to rape as he was charged with giving orders to kill. The bitter irony has not been lost on Navi Pillay, a South African Indian and the only woman judge among the six internationally respected justices (from Sweden, Russia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Tanzania and South Africa) sitting on the Rwandan tribunal. “We have to try a case before us where this person [Akayesu] has not been specifically charged with rape,” she told On The Issues. “We’re hearing the evidence, but the defense counsel has not cross-examined the witnesses who gave testimony of sexual violence, because it is not in the indictment. I’m extremely dismayed that we’re hearing evidence of rape and sexual violence against women and children, yet it is not in the indictments because the witnesses were never asked about it.

“I hope this matter will be investigated, particularly since evidence has emerged in sworn testimony,” Pillay said. “I have no idea if it will be. I don’t know what the prosecutor is doing about this.”

Secrets and Lies

If the track record of the United Nations tribunal investigators thus far is any indication, it is clear that the war crime of rape is not on the agenda. The tribunal’s first deputy prosecutor had originally set the tone. “It is a waste of time to investigate rape charges in Rwanda, because African women don’t like to talk about rape. We haven’t received any real complaints,” he told Binaifer Nowrojee, a lawyer from the New York-based advocacy organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The chief commander of the United Nations tribunal investigators, a Canadian, appears to concur. “There’s a complete lack of political will on the commander’s part to take the first step, to actually collect evidence of sexually violent crimes in Rwanda,” Nowrojee said. A Kenyan now living in New York, Nowrojee is author of the devastating HRW report Shattered Lives: Sexual Violence During the Rwandan Genocide and Its Aftermath.

Finding witnesses and victims isn’t hard. It’s much tougher to find Rwandans who don’t fall into either category. Between April and July of 1994, some 800,000 Rwandans — one in eight of the population — were massacred; most, but not all, were part of the Tutsi minority. Until then, the tiny country of Rwanda, just twice the size of Connecticut, had been known as the Switzerland of Africa, for its picturesque scenery of mountains and lakes. Now constant broadcasts from a state-supported radio station both applauded and encouraged the killings. “The graves are not full yet,” the broadcasts proclaimed. Tens of thousands of Rwandans were denied the speedy dispatch of a bullet. Instead, they were hacked to pieces in frenzied bloodbaths by machete-wielding men or women or children. (So far, one woman, Virginia Mukankusi, has been sentenced to death by a local Rwandan court — not the war tribunal — for her part in the killings.)

Why did it happen? The too-simple, oft-repeated answer is age-old ethnic and tribal differences. Yet the Tutsi and Hutu labels indicate socioeconomic castes, not tribes. “The reality is,” says the former Nigerian head of state Olesegun Obasanjo, commenting on the Rwanda genocide, “that most conflicts in Africa today are created by political elites who use their power for one basic purpose: the appropriation of state resources and power for their personal, family and kinship interests, to the exclusion of all others.”

Rwandan survivors carry gruesome scars that often include amputated limbs or missing ears, like 13-year-old Valentina, whose head bears deep machete gashes and whose hand was chopped in half. She was left to die, but lived for 43 days among rotting corpses. Too weak to stand, she was convinced the world had come to an end. The machetes were invariably aimed at breasts and genitalia, a savage postscript to days or weeks of repeated rapes by the women’s captors. It was not uncommon for battered and bleeding women to be passed from one group of armed men to another. And no matter how severe the women’s injuries, the sexual assaults would begin all over again.

The gender violence was encouraged in part by propaganda that described Tutsi women as being tall and lithe, with Caucasian features. “They were white women in black skin, who considered themselves too good to sleep with Hutu men,” it was frequently said. “Because of their arrogance they needed to be humiliated.” In reality, Tutsis and Hutus — who share the same language and religion and commonly intermarried — frequently look alike.

The butchery was so swift, the carnage so complete, towns of 80,000 were left empty. Great parts of the country were described by aid workers as open graveyards. The violence was facilitated when the United Nations and international community chose not to recognize what was happening. Thirteen days into the genocidal violence, the U.N. cut its forces in Rwanda from 2,500 to 250 after ten Belgian soldiers were killed. Two months later, the U.N. was still dickering over who would pay for the deployment of mainly African U.N. troops. The U.S. government, which had forbidden its spokespersons to use the term genocide, also delayed the decision by arguing with the U.N. over the cost of providing heavy armored vehicles for the peacekeeping forces.

While much of the world looked the other way, the slaughter continued unabated. Later, the respected New York-based Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children reported cases of infants still suckling the breasts of their headless mothers. One orphanage contained 485 infants and children, every single one of whom had been discovered living among the corpses of their families. A hungry toddler, his family’s sole survivor, had been observed chewing on a human body as he had seen dogs doing. John Shattuck, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, was stunned by what he witnessed in Rwanda. “It was like the machetes were one big neutron bomb that devastated the land,” he said on his return.

In the hundred days of genocidal nightmare, an estimated 250,000 women were raped or forced into sexual slavery. Human-rights investigators and aid workers reported how women told them that almost all the rapes occurred after the victims had been forced to watch their entire families cut down. “You alone are being allowed to live,” women were frequently told, “so that you die of sadness.” Many of the victims died because their bodies were so badly torn after repeated rapes in which sharpened sticks, gun barrels or boiling water often replaced penises. Women in late-stage pregnancies or those who had recently given birth did not escape. Others died because their attackers tried to gouge out their genitalia or otherwise sexually mutilate them with machetes after raping them. Still more will die later of AIDS. (Rwanda had an extremely high AIDS rate before the conflict; many raped women have tested HIV-positive.) An additional cause of death was the botched and primitive abortions Rwandan women resorted to when they learned they had been made pregnant by the enemy. In Rwanda, a predominantly Catholic country, abortion is illegal. (See “Birth Control in the War Zone” below).

Children of Bad Memories

The children born of rape, dubbed enfants mauvais souvenir, or children of bad memories, were often abandoned by their mothers. Some pregnant women committed suicide rather than give birth to “a child of hate.”

“For me, being raped was like death,” says 35-year-old Godarive, who was assaulted repeatedly. “When people kill your family and then rape you, you cannot love the child, you do not want it.” Yet this was an issue that clearly many had to confront. A UNICEF survey of 304 raped survivors showed that 35 percent had become pregnant after being raped. Dr. Catherine Bonnet, a French physician who completed a study of the victims, concluded, “The psychopathy of pregnancies resulting from rape in Rwanda is the same as that which has been observed in the former Yugoslavia: These pregnancies are concealed, often denied and discovered late. They are often accompanied by attempted self-induced abortions or violent fantasies against the child; indeed, even infanticide. Suicidal ideas are frequently present. Some women probably committed suicide without revealing the reason when they discovered that they had become pregnant by their rapist-tormentor.”

Twenty-year-old Perpetue survived three months in which she was repeatedly raped and her vagina mutilated. The young woman was at home with her husband, child and sister when the violence began. A member of the militia captured her; he told her he knew the best way to check whether Tutsi women were like Hutu women. “For two days, nine of us were held and raped, one after the other, by the militia. Perhaps as many as 20 of them. All the young women killed later were raped first. On the third day, I couldn’t walk any more, there was blood everywhere. They let me go because they said I was already dead,” she told a Human Rights Watch investigator. Perpetue did not go far before she was captured again by a different militia group that was “burning people to death.” For two days again, she and 17 other women and young girls were raped. “Then, one of them [the militiamen] sharpened the end of a hoe. They held open my legs and pushed the stick into me. I was screaming. They did it three times until I was bleeding everywhere. Then they told me to leave. I tried to stand but kept falling down. I was naked, crawling on the ground, covered in blood.”

Perpetue was able to hide for a week in the bush but was picked up by yet more soldiers, who took her to a mass grave for women and girls. “It was being organized by a woman with a long knife. She cut me behind the knee. One militia saw me and took me aside with four other women. He raped me. I cried out because I was still wounded from before and it was opening all my wounds again. He beat me for crying and gagged my mouth. He told me that I was forbidden to cry because Tutsi women had no rights at that moment.” Once again, she was left to die; once again, she survived.

The young mother required six months of medical treatment. French physicians offered to fly her to France for reconstructive surgery, but Perpetue longs only to go home. “Since that time, I have not had my monthly period. My stomach swells up and is very painful. I think about what has happened to me all the time, and at night I cannot sleep. I even see around here some of the men who did these things to me and to others. When I see them, I think about committing suicide.”

Despite the enormous numbers of women raped — often as brutally as Perpetue was — and the thousands of infants fathered by their attackers, there has not yet been a single rape indictment handed down by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Nor is there likely to be, say international observers. Then again, the number of the tribunal’s genocide indictments is scarcely better.

The tribunal was established in November 1994. Since then, 21 indictments have been handed down and 13 people are in custody — 12 in Arusha, one in the United States. The latter, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, has been in custody in Texas for two years, but the American judicial system is moving at such a snail’s pace, the war-crimes tribunal may end before he is extradited to Tanzania. Eight indictees are in Zaire. The warrants for their arrests were handed over to the authorities in 1995, but thus far Zaire has refused to cooperate.

Court hearings in Arusha didn’t begin until this year, and of the first four trials started, two were adjourned indefinitely in May, with no explanation. The others don’t have court dates set. With each case expected to last at least four months, it will take at least four years for the indictees to be tried. The tribunal, however, is scheduled to end next year, unless its mandate is extended, and this is thought unlikely.

Part of the problem, says Pillay, is the tribunal has just one courtroom, so only a single case at a time can be heard. This is but one of the many logistical difficulties facing the war-crimes court. The tiny town of Arusha, in a remote part of Tanzania, is clearly a poor choice for the site of the third war-crimes tribunal held since World War II. The town is hard to reach, and basic services either do not exist or rarely function. The court has neither the global gravity and respect conferred on Nuremberg nor the international focus and access of the former Yugoslavian tribunal in the Hague. Arusha appears to symbolize the Rwandan war tribunal itself: poorly located, poorly equipped and poorly managed, but out of sight and therefore forgettable, particularly by the international community and the U.N., which established it.

In addition to the town going for days with no running water or electricity, there are no proper medical services or indeed security, despite death threats against witnesses and judges. U.N. guards are armed with radios, not guns, which accounts for the windows of the court being sealed with bricks, turning the courtroom into an oven by the afternoon. The judges have been instructed not to leave their homes except to attend court, resulting in a situation tantamount to house arrest, particularly since they have no phone service in their homes.

It took three years for the U.N. to assign legal assistants to the judges, and to this day they have neither legal researchers nor a legal library. “These things are essential to any court,” says Pillay, who was the first woman of color to sit on South Africa’s Supreme Court. Legal research is made even harder by the fact that the court has one fax — which, like the phones, constantly malfunctions, or has reception so poor it is rendered all but useless. Six months ago the U.N. finally sent a huge satellite dish to better facilitate international communications. The dish sits unused because the Tanzanian government has yet to assign it appropriate frequencies.

Communication with the outside world would seem necessary for any international tribunal, but in the case of the Rwandan court it is vital because all indictments and many other decisions are made by the chief prosecutor, Justice Louise Arbour of Canada, who is shared with the former Yugoslavian tribunal and based with it in the Hague. Both tribunals also share the same Appeals Court, which is in the Hague, too. Critics charge that Arbour’s role is clearly too large for one individual, and her performance thus far would confirm that.

The Rwandan court has no running transcripts of the hearings and no computers. Two stenographers are in court all day taking notes and consequently have no opportunity to type transcripts. “This is a severe handicap,” says Pillay, who like the other judges must rely on her notes and hope they are sufficient. Another problem that could shortly bring the court to a complete halt: Any judge who signs an indictment is not permitted to sit on the trial of that individual. “So it won’t be long before we find ourselves lacking sufficient judges to hear trials,” she says.

When the Rwandan government complained last year about the molasses-like pace of the court, two senior tribunal officials were fired and have not yet been replaced. The U.N., in what was seen as a public-relations gesture, threw money at the problem. The tribunal’s budget this year is a surprisingly large $46 million, which is now more than the former Yugoslavian tribunal receives, but no one seems to know how the funds are allocated or whether they have even been made available. Previously, only six percent of the funding allocated was spent, one of the reasons less than a third of the number of investigators requested have been hired. Certainly the U.N. offices in New York are notoriously slow in paying up.

For the first 12 months of the tribunal, for example, none of the six justices received their salaries because there was “insufficient funding” to pay them. Three letters from the justices to then U.N. General Secretary Boutrous Boutrous Ghali outlining the problems did not even receive the courtesy of a response.

Prisoners of Fear

Perhaps the most egregious omission concerning the Rwandan tribunal is the shockingly poor security offered to witnesses of the genocide. “Not a single country, not even any of the African states, has offered these witnesses safe refuge after they testify,” says Pillay. “Yet by testifying, they may be signing their own death sentences.” (Fear has already had an impact on the Yugoslavia tribunal, where a rape charge was recently withdrawn because the victim, too terrified to continue, refused to testify.)

You can see it in the eyes of Rwandan witnesses, says Pillay. “They are very, very afraid. And they are at risk. We are dealing here with witnesses who have usually never left their little square inch of territory in Rwanda. It’s extremely rural. Most Rwandans were subsistence farmers before the conflict. Many have never worn shoes before, let alone spoken to strangers, been driven in vehicles, or flown to a foreign country in an airplane to speak in a strange courtroom. That in itself is a frightening experience. But after they testify, they say they’re afraid to go back to their villages and face now-hostile neighbors. Some witnesses have reported that their homes have been destroyed. At least one has been reported killed. Yet several have said in court that though they risk death, they want the world to know what happened in Rwanda.”

Human-rights lawyer Binaifer Nowrojee has twice traveled to Rwanda to document the atrocities. “I wouldn’t want to testify,” she says. “Since the beginning of this year, genocide survivors, potential witnesses, are being killed off one by one — 200 people in the first four months of this year, according to the U.N. Human Rights Field Operation. That’s frightening. The Rwandan government needs to augment police protection in these areas, or they need to relocate the people involved and their families, but they haven’t done so.”

Nowrojee also castigates the lack of services offered to rape victims who come forward to talk. “They need adequate counseling and support to help them overcome the stigma of rape or their fears for lack of safety if they testify, but that support doesn’t exist either. It was taken for granted that everything in the Yugoslav tribunal would be translated to the Rwandan tribunal. This included the fact that rape was a crime under international law, that it should be recognized and investigated in a way that yields results so that it can be prosecuted. Yet none of this was translated to the Rwandan side,” she says.”It was a mistake on our part to assume that we had made permanent gains in the recognition of rape as an international war crime.”

Nowrojee says she believes that the problems first occurred with the U.N. investigation teams. They didn’t think they had to do anything different to elicit rape testimony, she says. Instead, they sent out teams of two men, all foreigners, with another male, a Rwandan interpreter. “They’d show up at a site, and according to their guidelines, they’d ask, ‘Has anybody here been raped?’ Even in the West, women find it difficult to talk about being raped. In Rwanda it is considerably harder because of the tremendous cultural stigma attached to sexual assault.” As of last year, there were only four women among the investigators, so teams were invariably made up exclusively of men. Compounding the difficulties was the fact that none of the investigators was trained in gathering gender-violence testimony. Clearly, many teams didn’t even bother to ask.

Says Pillay, “Speaking from my 30 years as an attorney and human-rights activist, I know that rape survivors find it extremely hard to talk to men, especially men who don’t speak their language, about this kind of violence.”

There is a view at the U.N., says Nowrojee, that rape is not a crime of genocide. “They [U.N. investigators] think they should be concentrating on the killings or genocide crimes. These are crimes against humanity, and their opinion is, rape, well, rape is, you know, unfortunate, and sad, but too bad. It’s not really an international crime,” she says.

The Death of Credibility

Late last year, after the U.N. started taking some flak for this attitude, the Rwandan Tribunal Sexual Assault Committee was formed. “They met once or twice, never did anything. They were not given any authority and couldn’t intervene in regional investigations. Now the committee is being dismantled. It was just a public-relations ploy,” says a disgusted Nowrojee.

The attorney doesn’t understand why the Rwandan investigators did not take a lesson from their Yugoslav tribunal colleagues. They, at least, had one specially trained team in investigating sexual assault, she says. She points out that the sole workshop held on sexual violence for the Rwandan court (which was attended by Hillary Clinton earlier this year) was a closed session intended only for the prosecuting team.

Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour claims that the workshop last March was the first in a series of such meetings. “I plan a second meeting on crimes of sexual violence with the staff of my two offices for September 1997,” she says. Too little, and very much too late, blasts attorney Jessica Neuwirth, founder of New York’s Equality Now, an international human-rights organization for women. By then, the tribunal will be almost over. “These meetings should have taken place several months ago, before the war-crimes investigations began,” she says. “If they had, we might be prosecuting rape right now. . .and rape in Rwanda, where the numbers are so staggering, and the victims so outspoken. . .it is not as if the women victims have been inaccessible. The delay is inexcusable.”

It is especially disappointing, says Neuwirth, when the tribunal has a woman prosecutor. “Arbour has, in fact, been less diligent on this issue than her male predecessor. Evidence of sexual assault has come up in the trials, and indictments should be amended to include the rapes.”

It is clear, charge the growing number of critics, that the errors, omissions and delays add up to the U.N. Security Council’s total lack of will and interest in the Rwandan tribunal. If the reason the tribunal was established were not so grave, its ineptitude and oversights would be farcical. As it is, the court has become a war-crimes tribunal in name only.

The same charge has been levied against its sister tribunal in the Hague. In mid-May, the former Yugoslavian court’s president, Antonio Cassese of Italy, a world-class legal authority, was so distressed by the European tribunal’s lack of effectiveness that he spoke of asking the Security Council to terminate the court’s mandate. In its four years of existence, the Hague court has indicted 72 people, but only two minor figures have been tried.

“As a lawyer and a judge, I have long been aware that you must have justice before you can have peace,” says Pillay. “It shocks me that the international community established the Rwandan tribunal, yet is not doing enough to enable us to carry out our functions. In our darkest moments, I think we judges wonder, ‘Well, do they want this tribunal to succeed, to do its work, or not?’ Because surely, if you set up something, you should see that the support is there to enable it to work. “

“Again and again, we judges — via our Judge President — have addressed the world community at the U.N. General Assembly and appealed for assistance. We’ve addressed a conference of Parliamentarians for Global Action. Everyone is very supportive and says they are going to start some kind of action to get more cooperation. Then, as always,” she says, “no action is taken.”

Asked whether she thought the lack of international action was rooted in racism, Pillay promptly dismissed the suggestion. “Coming from apartheid South Africa, I would be the first to sniff out racism,” she said. “We’re not even getting support from African countries! I think it is a particular attitude toward the developing world, that whatever is happening in developing countries is somehow not news; it doesn’t receive serious world attention. You have a black tribunal versus a European tribunal, and the latter is receiving a lot more attention, media and otherwise.”

Based on the record so far, the question must be asked: Is the Rwandan war tribunal little more than a morality play? Is this what it was intended to be? Is the time — and millions of dollars — involved being well spent?

“No, it is not,” says Nowrojee, referring to the thus far multimillion-dollar expenditure. She feels we need to question whether the Rwandan tribunal is for the genocide survivors or for those of us in the international community. “Let’s not fool ourselves. It’s very marginal that this is turning out to mean something to those who survived the genocide. And it is making itself more marginal as time goes on,” she says.

After WWII, at the first international war-crimes tribunal at Nuremberg, one had the impression, says Nowrojee, that great legal minds came together and prosecuted Nazi war criminals. “There was a lot of gravity and weight in the way that it was done. And here, instead, you see a relatively inexperienced prosecutorial team. . .and ineptness, and mismanagement. Is this is the best the world can give to Rwanda?”

That doesn’t mean the tribunal is completely useless, she says, trying to find at least one positive note about the proceedings. Nowrojee says she believes that even if it is simply a morality play, there’s some merit in it. “In and of itself that’s not a bad thing. There is, after all, an international forum that says to the world that genocide is wrong. . .that rape is part of genocide and is also wrong under international law. I think there is something valuable about that. But as far as making this a meaningful reconciliation and giving justice to those who survived, I think we shouldn’t be overly optimistic. The way this court has been run is having very little effect on people’s lives in Rwanda.”

As this article is being written, Rwandan women and young girls continue to be raped. Rwandan citizens of all ages continue to be hacked to pieces — this time in neighboring Zaire, where they fled in search of refuge from their own country’s bloodletting. Many of the killers fled along with them and continued the violence. And as Mobutu’s Zairean government collapsed this past May and the country was renamed the Congo, local soldiers demonstrated with their guns that foreign refugees were unwelcome. Reportedly, more than 40,000 Rwandan refugees have been slaughtered there so far.


Sex, either voluntary or involuntary, tends to increase during war. Lovemaking is often the only comfort left when you no longer know if you’ll survive another day, and even the most basic services: food, water and shelter disappear or become uncertain. In the refugee camps in Pakistan, for example, where 3.5 million Afghans struggled to survive abysmal conditions after fleeing the Soviet invasion of their country, fertility rates in the 1980s were among the world’s highest. As far as rape is concerned, ever since there have been armies, women and young girls have been viewed as spoils of war. When women become the key figures holding families together, the lack of reproductive services during armed conflict can take as great a toll as bullets and bombs. Whatever happens to women in such situations immediately has an impact on their children as well. “Yet women and children are generally overlooked in a war,” says one United Nations report, “the forgotten victims, while attention is focused on stopping the fighting or providing food.”

So stunning was the gender violence in Rwanda three years ago, however, that it triggered a pilot U.N. program to supply emergency reproductive-health-care kits in times of crisis. The kits are being sent to Rwandan refugees in camps in the Congo. “It’s the first time reproductive health care has been included in emergency assistance at the outset of a crisis,” says a spokesman for the United National Population Fund (UNFPA), referring to the current Rwandan refugee crisis, not the genocide of 1994.

Progressively and pragmatically, the kits contain postcoital contraception, as well as oral contraceptives and condoms; midwifery and self-use infant-delivery kits; medical equipment for incomplete or postabortion complications; and HIV-testing kits.

Instead of applauding the move, U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (R.-New Jersey) angrily denounced the program, telling Congress that the UNFPA was killing Rwandan babies by encouraging abortion in the refugee camps. Smith has long felt that too much money is spent on international population-control programs. He was one of the main sponsors of the bill that slashed American funding for family-planning programs around the world because he feels they carry out or could carry out abortions. The congressman’s position is particularly offensive considering the level of sexual violence perpetrated against Rwandan women.

For UNFPA’s executive director, Dr. Nafis Sadik, the issue is simply one of human rights. “UNFPA recognizes that refugees and people in emergency situations have the same vital human rights, including the right to reproductive health, as people in any community,” she says.

What You Can Do To Help

Support Equality Now and Human Rights Watch, both international human-rights organizations
that are campaigning to ensure that the Rwandan war-crimes tribunal prosecute crimes of rape. For more information contact:
Equality Now
226 W. 58th St.
New York NY 10019
(212) 586-0906
Human Rights Watch,
Women’s Rights Project
485 Fifth Ave.
New York NY 10017
(212) 972-8400

To support American relief agencies that are working with Rwandans, contact:
151 Ellis St., N.E.
Atlanta GA 30303
(404) 681-2552
Oxfam America
26 West St
Boston MA 02111-1206
(617) 482-1211
International Rescue Committee
122 E. 42nd St.
New York NY 10168-1289
(212) 551-3001
International Medical Corps
10880 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 606
Los Angeles CA 89924
(213) 937-8180
Sole Providers is an agency
dedicated to furnishing shoes
for Rwandan children,
many of whom have lacerated,
infected feet.
For more information,
contact Susan Dunigan,
Sole Providers, 71 North St.,
Shelton CN 06484; (203) 925-1889.
Avega is a grassroots
organization working with
women in Rwanda.
Write them at the Association
for Widows of the April Genocide, B.P. 1535 Kigali, Rwanda, Attn: Annonciata Nyamirmo.

JAN GOODWIN is a contributing editor to On The Issues. She wrote most recently about women in Bosnia (Winter 1997).