godelieve mukasarasi

director, sevota

 

Q: What was your reaction when you were first approached about the film?

A: I was very surprised. I did not expect it. It seemed to me like a gift from God, a miracle.

 

Q: And when you saw the film—what was your reaction?

A: I was remembering the women suffering, but also laughing, opening up, testifying — the same images that inspired me to create SEVOTA in October 1994, when I was in church. The movie made me think, and think some more. I was also remembering my own suffering when my husband Emmanuel, my daughter Angelique, and 9 other people were gunned down. Their funerals took place on Christmas, normally a day of joy and celebration. I was thinking about however since, that day has been for me a day of anguish, hate, despair, and solitude. So I was thinking about how the film reveals an unfortunate journey, and the story of my family, which will never end.

 

Q: What did you think of yourself in the film?

A: In spite of being a rural woman with little means, I helped denounce injustice and fought for humanity. I thought of my bravery and my courage in keeping my compassion and dignity in spite of my own intense suffering.

 

Q: How important is it for victims of sexual violence to have an organization like SEVOTA as an outlet?

A: It is critical that programs like this exist. Women must defeat their feelings of shame, and find peers so that they may help each other live with a positive mindset, and heal their own PTSD. They must learn strategies to acquire self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-acceptance. They must value themselves and work towards forgiveness of themselves and others. And they must open up. This is very important for the healing process.


 

Q: Do you think hearing your story, and the stories of JJ, NN and OO, will help other victims to heal?

A: Yes. Other victims will learn from their example of courage and unity. Women’s hearts are broken due to a combination of 3 things: genocide, rape, and AIDS. Women will see the benefit of coming to spaces of free dialogue, which are organized for self-healing, to fight against the violence they’ve endured.

 

Q: In so many ways, you are the inner strength of the story that we see in "The Uncondemned." How were you able to find that strength to continue helping the women after your own tragedy?

A: Through the grace of prayer. My respect for God, and those among his creatures who have no voice, gives me the strength and energy to go on, despite the intense hardship. 

 

Q: What do you hope audiences learn from the film?

A: The audience will better understand why rape must be punished as a crime against humanity, not only in Rwanda but also everywhere else. The fight against impunity must continue. All women—Rwandan and others—must get passed this culture of silence and speak openly of the evil they endured.

 

Q: You brought your daughter to the screening in Kigali. What did she think of seeing her mother on screen, in the film?

A: My daughter Rosine said that her mom was an “international star” in the fight against violence and for peace. She understood the value of her mom’s hard work.

 

Q: Tell us about your work now.

A: I continue my work for the promotion of the rights of women and girls affected by sexual violence in conflict zones. I do that through work groups and self-healing workshops, development education, and through organizing meetings for children born of rape and for husbands of women who were raped. I contribute to development activities for local psychosocial services and for the promotion of peace, security, and partnership in the Great Lakes region.