The forgotten children born out of rape, 25 years on

Tuesday April 9 2019

children

Children born out of rape during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi lack programmes that cater to their needs. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Majority of the 20,000 children born of genocidal rape, now aged 24 years, are held back by the effects of their birth, with many left out of support programmes aimed at helping survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Many of them were born to genocide widows, some were infected with HIV/AIDS and have not received any help from the government or any other institution, leaving them economically vulnerable and their future unclear since majority didn’t attain any education.

These children have largely been left out of post-genocidal support programmes, partly because based on policy they are not considered victims of genocide because they were born after December 31, 1994.

They were excluded by the Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund (Farge), which caters for the education of survivors, because they do not fit the definition of survivors.

The law didn’t take into account children born after 1994.

“The children born out of genocidal rape have been largely left out,” said Valerie Mukabayire, the president of AVEGA-the organisation charged with supporting widows of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. She said AVEGA has tried to help some of them, but their resources are limited.

Rape was widely used as a weapon by Interahamwe militias and other genocide perpetrators, with estimates showing that over 500,000 women were raped during the genocide.

Institutions like Ibuka said the government should come up with a special fund or programme to support these children. Many of them suffer trauma caused by an identity crisis, with many yet to get the psychosocial support they need to heal.

Parliament has discussed the matter before, with some legislators proposing that Farge include these in its programme. However, nothing conclusive has come out of the discussions.

Some of the children show signs of aggression and violence, with many living reclusive lives.

Activists propose conducting research on these children to clearly understand their needs and the interventions that best suit them.

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