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News Posted on January 20, 2017

Professor Pruitt’s Work on Rwandan War Crimes Trial Featured in Buzzfeed

Professor Lisa R. Pruitt is featured prominently in a Buzzfeed article about three Rwandan women whose testimony resulted in the first-ever conviction of rape as an act of genocide and a crime against humanity. Professor Pruitt, who was a gender consultant to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1996 and did the initial legal analysis of the case against defendant Jean-Paul Akayesu, played a significant role in their story, which is the subject of The Uncondemned, a documentary film set to be screened at UC Davis on January 30.

The article describes the film and Professor Pruitt’s work in bringing the rape survivors to the attention of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). As detailed in The Uncondemned, investigators were initially not interested in pursuing rape allegations. “Many of the investigators said, ‘Well, we can’t be concerned about some women who got raped. We can’t divert resources to investigate those crimes. We had a genocide down here,’” Pruitt recalls in the film. It was only after a witness before the tribunal testified about sexual violence that the rape allegations were pursued, with Pruitt’s initial memo on the subject playing a critical role in enabling authorities to locate the women who later testified to having been raped.

Lisa R. Pruitt, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor at UC Davis School of Law, is a scholar whose recent work explores the legal relevance of rural spatiality, including how it inflects dimensions of gender, race, and ethnicity.  Pruitt's work also considers rural-urban difference in transnational and international contexts.