The Genocide

Between April and June of 1994, an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were killed in the span of 100 days in the small central African country of Rwanda. The genocide was sparked by the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.

Hutus engaged in brutal mass killings of Tutsis and Tutsi sympathizers. Women were subjected to sexual violence on a massive sale – between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped, many of whom became infected with HIV. Thousands of women were individually raped, gang-raped, raped with objects such as sharpened sticks or gun barrels, held in sexual slavery (either collectively or through forced “marriage”), and sexually mutilated by members of the infamous Hutu militia groups known as the Interhamwe. The international community ignored calls for help and did nothing to stop the killings and rapes. The UN Security Council issued a restricted mandate and failed to reinforce the small, lightly armed UN Blue Helmets already in Rwanda. The scale and speed of the slaughter left the country reeling. The murders finally came to an end in mid-July when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) forces led an offensive from the north and neighboring Uganda to win control of much of the country. By that time, Rwanda had endured Africa’s worst genocide in modern times. It is estimated by local NGOs that the widespread campaign of rape and torture during the Rwandan genocide led to the births of an estimated 20,000 children.