Bertide and Her Mother, Beata

Kibuye, Rwanda

Bertide and Beata, 2006 and 2017.

Bertide and Beata, 2006 and 2017.


Earlier this year my mother disclosed to me that I was conceived during the genocide. Before she just told me that my stepfather is my father. What I know is that during the genocide my mother was running away and hiding from Interahamwe (Hutu militia killers), and many people were killed, including her relatives, and many women were raped, and that is how I was conceived. The genocide was a plan to kill people and that plan was executed and resulted in the killing of many people. Bad things happened, that's all I know.

We were at home and my mother called me to the sitting room, the other kids were out playing. We sat down and she said: “Please be strong about what I am about to tell you. You have been asking me for a long time about your father, and it is difficult for me to tell you, but the man I am married to is not your father. I conceived you during the genocide when I was raped by many men. I don't know who your father is, it all happened during the genocide.” After my mother told me this it made me feel very sad, I was speechless, I felt something weighing on me and I just broke down and started crying. My mother was telling me to be courageous; this is why she didn't tell me before because it was not going to be a good experience for me.

The effects on my life from being born as a result of genocide rape are feelings of sadness, shame, and low self-esteem. Knowing the truth of who I am has helped me accept myself, because I heard rumors from people in the community that the man married to my mother was not my father, but now that my mother has disclosed everything to me, I feel better. I also don't have any relatives other than my mother and half sister. I don't really have a family. I would have liked to have a big family like other young people in this community.

Knowing my father is a rapist and killer makes me feel sad, because my mother went through a very bad experience, and knowing that my existence is a result of a bad man makes me feel very bad. Living with this secret makes me feel a lot of stigma and uselessness.

My message to the world is for the older people who know what happened in Rwanda to share with their friends and fellow citizens what happened. And for mothers and fathers to tell young children how the genocide happened and for mothers who have children who were born out of rape, to tell them when they are young and not wait until it’s too late.

-Bertide, daughter of Beata, 2017

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