At 3:30AM

This post is by Kathleen Fallon as part of the series ‘Culture and Human Rights: Challenging Cultural Excuses for Gender-Based Violence’ hosted by and  

A few weeks ago, I heard a woman screaming in the middle of the night.  Last night it happened again.

I am nearing the end of my second month living in Kigali, Rwanda. The tiny east African country is beautiful, and I don’t just mean the visual beauty of the “land of a thousand hills.”  I have truly experienced a warm welcome.  Everyone has laughed with me and teased me and had me repeat Kinyarwanda words until my pronunciation is adequate, and dear lord, pulled me out of my seat to dance.  Kigali is the green I have seen in pictures.  Banana trees are everywhere, motos speed by, and clay houses layer the many terraced slopes.  Despite the undeniable ugliness of the country’s past, the beauty of its present is everywhere.

But then there was last night, and the screams that haunted me far after they stopped.

Rwanda: Rape, justice and privacy

Publication Date: 
June 2, 2011
IRIN Africa
Justice in action: A gacaca court near Kigali (IRIN)

KIGALI, 2 June 2011 (IRIN) - A new report has rekindled debate on whether the Rwandan government "betrayed" women who were raped during the 1994 genocide by letting community-based gacaca courts process their cases. 

The Human Rights Watch (HRW)  marks one of the first attempts by an advocacy group to assess how the gacaca handled rape cases, which were transferred from conventional courts in 2008. (Gacaca means "grass" in Kinyarwanda, symbolizing a gathering place and referring to a system of public conflict resolution once reserved for minor civil disputes.)