Source: (2006) Journal of International Women’s Studies. 7(4): 14-35.

The girl child suffers from both sexism and “childism” for she is at the intersection of women’s rights and children’s rights. The question of her fate in post-conflict Rwanda is particularly crucial for during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, she suffered egregious sexual violence based on gender regardless of her age. Not only were two-year old girls raped, but there was a clear intention to make women and girls suffer differently from men and boys: while the latter were killed rapidly with a single shot or machete stroke, girl children and women were mutilated, tortured and left to die slowly. However, to focus solely on the sexual abuse of girl children in conflict hinders other aspects of the discrimination they undergo in numerous areas of their daily lives. Our hypothesis is that the sexual violence suffered by girl children during the genocide can be seen as emblematic of a general pattern of sexual discrimination in Rwandan society which was unleashed by the exacerbation of the ethnic conflict. Based on this premise, Rwanda will be studied as a case in point by defining the girl child in that specific context and suggesting a restorative approach to her fate. First, this article will study the status of the girl child in international law. Second, it will examine her status in Rwanda before and during the genocide, as well as in the transitional or post-conflict society she dwells in today. Finally, this article will provide recommendations for her healing through a “childered” and gendered approach to recovery by establishing a restorative paradigm in terms of safety, remembrance, and reconnection. (excerpt)

Read Full Article