Dr. Sela Muyoka Musundi earned her PhD in Cultural Studies in Education at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She also obtained a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from the same school. She previously taught Master’s students in Gender and Development at the University of Rwanda (Centre for Gender Studies). Dr. Musundi has also taught at Egerton University’s Institute of Women, Gender, and Development Studies in Kenya. Presently, she is a senior gender advisor with the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Nairobi, Kenya. Her research interests include: wartime rape, the lived experiences of young Rwandans born from war rape, and sexually transmitted infections among women in Kenya. She previously did research on how young Rwandans born as a consequence of rape during the 1994 genocide uncover “the truth” about their paternity and how they cope with the stigma associated with that identity. She is currently in Rwanda to conduct research on how young Rwandans born from genocide rape construct selfhood.
During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, scores of women and girls were systematically attacked and raped by the Interahamwe militiamen, the Rwandan military (Forces Armées Rwandaises) and ordinary civilians that either supported the extremist genocide ideology, or were coerced into committing these crimes. As a consequence of the violence, between 250,000-500,000 women fell victim to genocidal rape. Many women that survived these vicious attacks ended up being forcibly impregnated with children of the perpetrators. Some women terminated these pregnancies while others gave birth and abandoned their children of rape. There were also those that chose to raise their children because these children gave them a reason to continue living after the genocide. While much of the research on women rape survivors of the genocide focuses on these women's lived experiences, so few studies give attention to the children born of rape. Therefore, the present study seeks to fill this gap in the literature by exploring how a cohort of 12 Rwandan youth born of rape in the 1994 genocide construct selfhood and what contributes to change in the way they perceive themselves. A hermeneutic phenomenology will be utilised to uncover the "essences" of meaning that participants attach to their life circumstance. In line with this approach, individual interviews and focus groups will be employed to understand the phenomenon of study. In order to ensure rigor and trustworthiness of the study, two strategies namely, prolonged engagement and interview technique, will be deployed. Findings of this study have the potential to contribute towards policy debates surrounding who a 'victim' or 'survivor' [rescapés] of the genocide against Tutsi should be.