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Gender Equality, But Not the Good Kind

An extensive story in the New York Times Magazine describes the alleged war crimes of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, national minister of family and women's affairs for Rwanda during the genocide committed there in 1994. Now being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Nyiramasuhuko can claim a number of firsts for her gender:

At the tribunal, Pauline faces 11 charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. She is the first woman ever to be charged with these crimes in an international court. And she is the first woman ever to be charged with rape as a crime against humanity.
I like to think that, as a species, we are making progress -- if slowly, and in fits and starts -- towards becoming more civilized. I look back at the Holocaust and think, never again. And yet I am faced with the grim reality of what happened in Rwanda just eight years ago:
There will never be a precise accounting of how many Rwandans were massacred between April and July 1994. Human Rights Watch calculates the number to be at least 500,000, while the United Nations estimates that between 800,000 and one million Rwandans died during that period. Whatever the total, the rate of carnage and the concentration of the killing (Rwanda is roughly the size of New Jersey) give it the distinction of being the most ferocious mass slaughter in recorded history. Three-quarters of the Tutsi population was exterminated.
This is an important article. If the allegations in it are true, the Hutus engaged in a slaughter that was not only the fastest in recorded history, but perhaps the most vicious as well. Whereas the Nazis wanted to exterminate the Jews and set about to do so as efficiently as possible, the Hutus wanted not only to exterminate the Tutsis, but to subject them to shocking humiliations and degradations as they did so. Why? I can't imagine an answer, and yet I want to know why.

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