The book “The Men Who Killed Me: Rwandan Survivors of Sexual Violence (2009)” includes powerful portraits and testimonials of seventeen genocide survivors of sexual violence. Ten years later, the lives of the survivors have changed for the better and they wish to share their new stories and photos with you. The book has impacted people worldwide to the extent that it has motivated them to actively make a change in addressing conflict-related sexual violence. Their continuous request is to know how the survivors are doing now, but also how the survivors’ stories fit in the broader picture of combatting sexual violence in conflict and how to support the survivors. This crowdfunding campaign supports the publication of a second updated version of the book, an online educational and interactive platform on conflict-related sexual violence to be used in universities and schools, and concrete support for the survivors in the book, such as possibilities for them to start their own business or to educate their children.
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The Men Who Killed Me: Understanding sexual violence in conflict and empowering its survivors
Background to the project
The book “The Men Who Killed Me: Rwandan Survivors of Sexual Violence (2009)” originated from IMPACT’s very own Anne-Marie de Brouwer and her former colleague, Sandra Ka Hon Chu, as they worked within the area of sexual violence in conflict, specifically in the context of Rwanda. The vile atrocities that the sexual violence victims and survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide had faced were unquestionably appalling as they had been systematically raped, gang-raped, sexually enslaved and mutilated. The disturbing number of hundreds of thousands of girls and women who fell victim to genocidal sexual violence was just inexplicable, as was the number of male victims of sexual violence. After the genocide, Rwandan survivors of sexual violence faced social isolation from society, dreadful poverty, continuing physical and psychological trauma, health issues and incurable diseases (such as HIV/Aids) from the indescribable brutality they suffered and witnessed. Many women bore children conceived as a result of rapes and it was estimated that 25,000 enfants mauvais souvenir (“children of bad memories”) were born. In the context of Rwanda, it can be said that sexual violence was a very effective instrument to destroy an ethnic group and thus amounted to genocide. The book “The Men Who Killed Me” gave 17 of these survivors (16 women and one man) a stage upon which they could share their photos, harrowing experiences and narrative with the world and make certain that this history of barbarity would not repeat itself.
It has been almost ten years since the book was published. It is the survivors’ and IMPACT’s wish to put forth an updated edition of the book. The second edition will contain new portraits and information on how the lives of the survivors have unfolded since we first interviewed them. In addition, we will make online available educational materials on conflict-related sexual violence, justice and reconciliation that can be used as an interactive platform for course materials in universities and schools (including video footage of interviews with survivors). The lives of the survivors have changed for the better and adding new content to the book and having online educational materials available will inform people all over the world of the survivors’ journey and struggles in their lives as well as their extraordinary strength, courage and resilience. Four out of the 17 survivors have sadly deceased due to the consequences of the sexual violence that had been inflicted upon them; a heart breaking reality of the genocide that unfortunately also needs to be given attention. Finally, proceeds of the book will go to the survivors, so that they can continue to build themselves a better future by, for instance, setting up their own businesses or providing for their children’s education.
Survivors of sexual violence are a living testament to our collective abandonment of them, but they also represent the promise of transformative change. We have to listen and support these survivors. This project supports this cause.
Testimonials about the importance of the book
Survivors in the book ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ (Rwanda):
“All of us unanimously agree that we are happy to share about our lives in an updated edition of the book. We are happy to know that you are still interested in us being so far. The book has also helped the people who suffered the same fate as us to know each other. It has been a kind of encouragement to one another. There is also an obvious change in our lives.”
Kimberley Ducey (associate professor, University of Winnipeg, Canada):
“I adopted the first edition of ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ for an endless array of undergraduate courses, including “Gendercide”; “Liberation Sociology”; and even “Qualitative Research Methods.” The extraordinary survivors featured in the first edition taught my students far more than I ever could, proving that ﬁrst-hand accounts bring an essential dimension to students’ understanding of rape-as-genocide. In the absence of survivors as guest speakers, these narratives played a prominent role in my students’ education. Indeed, I have found no better source than ‘The Men Who Killed Me.’ You can imagine my delight then to learn that an updated version of the book will soon be available. ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ unquestionably highlights the authority of survivors as shown in anonymous evaluations for my courses, such as the following: “I may forget a theory or who said what, but I will never ever forget the woman [from The Men Who Killed Me] who had been chained to a bed for three months and raped continuously by a dozen of her captors. Her words are seared into my psyche. Whether she’s in the ﬁelds, or at home, or at market, she will never get the smell of semen out of her nostrils.” Many of the testimonies in the first edition are arguably even more unsettling and shocking. They give witness to the vituperative misogyny that contaminates so much of the modern world.
The updated edition, together with an online educational platform, is both necessary and an essential contribution – a gift in fact – for readers. Given the current state of the world – from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada, the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping in Nigeria, the #MeToo hashtag and movement, including gendered workplace harassment – a second edition could not come at a better time. ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ continues to provide a candid and multifaceted discussion of sexual violence, including its ruthlessness and methodical orchestration and the culture of pre-existing gender inequality that helps create it. ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ helped my students, who might otherwise object to the female-centered nature of the discussion of rape, by not only including a testimonial from a male survivor and giving voice to the sexual assaults men endured, but also because the women’s testimonials were replete with examples of the horrors their loved ones suffered, including sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers. The first edition of ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ documented legislative changes in post-genocide Rwanda (e.g., laws that guarantee girls and women the same rights as boys and men to inherit property), and responses by non-governmental organizations, the international community, and the ICTR. It contained a discussion of the UN Security Council Resolution 1820. I look forward to the updates on such issues that shall come with the second edition.”
Lauren Jackson (former professional basketball player, Australia):
“I decided to study gender studies after reading the book ‘The Men Who Killed Me’. Reading the book helped me to understand what I wanted to do after my international professional basketball carreer: to make an impact in the lives of survivors of sexual violence in conflict. I am about to graduate now at the University of Canberra.”
Samantha Strewchuk (undergraduate student, University of Winnipeg, Canada):
“The testimonials in ‘The Men Who Killed Me’ have significantly deepened my understanding and compassion for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. The haunting details of their experiences are unforgettable. To learn how their lives have changed since the first edition of this book motivates readers to continue working to support survivors in their journeys of healing.”
Implementation and costs of the project
This project will be executed in joint cooperation by the following partners: the survivors in the book, IMPACT (Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Eefje de Volder), Sandra Ka Hon Chu, Samer Muscati, Solace Ministries, and Wolf Legal Publishers. The project is anticipated to start in September 2018, after the funds have been raised. Publication of the book is set for April 2019, which falls together with the 25th commemoration of the genocide. The online educational platform and concrete support activities for survivors are anticipated for late 2019. Of each book sold €2 goes to the Rwandan survivors of genocidal sexual violence.
The costs for the project relate to: interviewing, editing, researching, online payment platform development, organisation, travel, publishing, online educational platform development and contents development, per diems survivors, photographing, video taking, and overhead. The total costs of the project are €56.333, of which €25.615 in kind (46%) by the project partners. This means that the crowdfunding budget to be raised is: €30.718.
|Antoinette Van der Kaa||€100,00||January 21, 2019|
|Luud Roos||€100,00||January 07, 2019|
|patrick cammaert||€50,00||October 07, 2018|
|Anonymous||€5,00||September 09, 2018|
|Christine van N||€10,00||August 27, 2018|
|Hanane Lotfi||€10,00||August 24, 2018|
|byFlow BV||€25,00||August 24, 2018|
|Anonymous||€1.000,00||August 16, 2018|
|Eefje de Volder (for birthday girl)||€20,00||August 16, 2018|
|Freek en Liese Dekkers||€100,00||August 14, 2018|
|Malgorzata Adamczewska||€20,00||August 07, 2018|
|Marek Adamczewski||€50,00||August 07, 2018|
|Annelore Evers||€3,50||August 07, 2018|
|Jo Willems||€100,00||July 04, 2018|
|Anonymous||€802,50||May 25, 2018|
|Anonymous||€5,00||May 23, 2018|
|Anonymous||€5,00||May 23, 2018|
|Luan Vercruysse||€100,00||April 17, 2018|
|Willem-Jan van der Wolf||€50,00||March 09, 2018|
|Foundation Mukomeze||€5.000,00||March 08, 2018|
|Impact Center||€100,00||March 08, 2018|
|Anonymous||€15,00||March 08, 2018|
|Anonymous||€10,00||March 08, 2018|