In this paper I present unique material from in-depth interviews with 16 women in Rwanda who have made testimonies in the gacaca, the village tribunals initiated to enhance reconciliation after the 1994 genocide. The aim of the interviews was to learn more of how testifying in such a public event as the gacaca affects psychological health: do the women find this experience as healing or retraumatizing or are there other effects? This article contains the first results of a project on the gacaca, psychological health, and reconciliation in Rwanda where field work was carried out during February to May 2006.
There has been an assumption that testifying in truth and reconciliation commissions will be a healing experience for survivors. Healing has been a central concept in the general reconciliation literature and in political rhetoric around truth commissions. However, the findings of this study are alarming. Traumatization, ill-health, isolation, and insecurity dominate the lives of the testifying women. They are threatened and harassed before, during, and after giving testimony in the gacaca. It is a picture of a reconciliation process we seldom see.
2006. 24- p.