The Lived Experience of Genocide Rape Survivors in Rwanda

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of women who were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Methods

A phenomenological approach was used and this study was carried out in Rwanda in three different locations. The 7 participants took part in three semi-structured, individual interviews which were audiotaped.

Results

Participants reported many themes unique to Rwandan women survivors of genocide. These themes included violation by perceived inferiors, loss of dignity and respect, loss of identity, social isolation, loss of hope for the future (i.e., HIV/AIDS), the ongoing torture of rape babies, and developing a sense of community.

Conclusions

Rwandan women survivors of the 1994 genocide have lived through unimaginable suffering. Limited information is available regarding the experiences of these rape survivors and this information could create awareness and some understanding of what these women endured.

Clinical Relevance

This study can help nurses to understand the sequelae of war and rape and thus have needed information which can be used to offer assistance to women in these circumstances.

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