Professor Pruitt Comments on Rwanda Genocide for Southern California Public Radio
Professor Lisa R. Pruitt commented for Southern California Public Radio station KPCC on the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. In 1994, around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by the Hutu majority during the country's Civil War. Professor Pruitt, who worked in Rwanda in 1996 as a gender consultant with the International Criminal Tribunal-Rwanda, related her memories of interviewing rape survivors and working to indict Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician whose conviction for genocide was the first in the history of international law to include rapes as acts of genocide.
"When I was on the ground there in 1996, the nation was still really shell shocked," said Pruitt. "It had only been a couple of years since the genocide, and every single survivor I met during my time at the Tribunal was the sole survivor in his or her family. That doesn't mean that every family was left with only one survivor, but that just happened to be a commonality among the survivors whom I met when I was there, so you can imagine how pervasive the post-traumatic stress disorder and the shock were as we were trying to help the witnesses to get their statements taken and help prepare them to testify against the high-level officials involved."
Lisa R. Pruitt served as a gender consultant with the International Criminal Tribunal-Rwanda from September to November of 1996. She is now a professor at UC Davis School of Law who teaches and writes about feminist legal theory and whose recent scholarship explores the legal relevance of rural spatiality, including how it inflects dimensions of gender, race, and ethnicity.