By Anna Seidner

Why You Should Watch This

In Rwanda, between April and June of 1994, an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were killed in the span of just 100 days. Years after the brutal genocide, Intended Consequences revisits the country, asking the difficult question, how does a woman care for her child when it’s the son or daughter of the man who raped her?

I first watched this video during my freshman year at Trinity College; I was taking the course Introduction to Human Rights, and we had just finished reading Jean Hatzfeld’s book, The Antelope’s Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide.  Almost four years later– when I came to WITNESS and began exploring the world of video advocacy– the haunting images and stories from Intended Consequences immediately came to mind. I revisited the video, and it was every bit as powerful as I had remembered. Combining stunning portrait photography, firsthand video testimony, this video reminds us that although the killing has ended, the legacy of genocide endures in Rwanda.

 Video Facts

  • Title of Video: Intended Consequences
  • Date Created/Posted: October 23, 2008
  • Length: 14:45
  • Who made it: Jonathan Torgovnik
  • Location: Rwanda
  • Human Rights Issues: genocide; discrimination; rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war; children’s rights; women’s rights; health (physical and mental); gender-based violence

Goal: This video aims to share the stories of women who were victims of rape and sexual violence during the genocide and how they are attempting to rebuild their lives. I believe the filmmaker’s main goal is to use the video to persuade the international community to help Rwandan women and children in their ongoing struggles.

Primary Audience: The intended audience of this video is the international community, particularly governments and those who can urge them to take action. As one of the women explains, “The international community has a debt because they didn’t come to our rescue. They should now come to support us as we deal with the legacy of genocide.”

Message: There are several important messages to take away from this video. The video’s main message— which urges us to take action— is that Rwanda is still healing and still needs our help. The international community (governments and perhaps individuals as well) has a duty to aid in this recovery process; therefore, they ought to be donating funds to initiatives that offer support (education, counseling, financial aid, etc.) to those rebuilding their lives post-genocide. Thus, this video also prompts the audience to recognize that those who were killed are not the only victims; rather those who are the leftovers (as one interviewee calls herself) of the violence are victims as well.

Content/Style/Voices: The beautiful, vivid portraits of the women interviewed, as well as their children, are striking and stick with you long after you’ve finished watching the video. The use of a combination of video clips and photos taken during each emotional interview help the viewer to connect to the women and to feel empathy for their personal stories.

This video uses the testimonies of these women to show that the legacy of genocide has manifested itself in many forms. Not only do most of the women interviewed suffer from physical disabilities, depression and poor mental health, and/or HIV, many are struggling to live with and love children that are the product of rape. These women paint a picture of families torn apart, both by the killing and by an inability to agree upon how to move forward.

This video employs both subtitles and translated voiceovers. This is a strong combination because it allows the viewer to hear the voices of the women as they tell their stories in their own way, and it also helps the viewer to remain engaged with the video by presenting the stories in a language that is familiar to him/her.

Did you know?

During the 1994 genocide, women were subjected to sexual violence on a massive scale; between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped, and many of them were infected with HIV. It is estimated by local NGOs that this widespread campaign of rape and torture led to the births of approximately 20,000 children. These children are now in their teens.


Foundation Rwanda  – Mission: to provide education for children born from rapes committed during the 1994 genocide; link their mothers to medical and psychological support and income generating activities; raise awareness about the consequences of genocide and sexual violence through photography and new media

WITNESS’s Gender-Based Violence Campaign – recently worked with partners in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to produce Our Voices Matter: Congolese Women Demand Justice and Accountability

Join the Conversation

Imagine you are one of these mothers. How would you feel about your child? Imagine you are one of these children. What might your life be like?

Do you believe this video is an effective tool to raising awareness about how someone in the international community can support these families?


Anna Seidner is an Administrative intern at WITNESS. She is currently an undergraduate student at Trinity College, studying Human Rights and Hispanic Studies.

2 thoughts on “Video Advocacy Example: Rwandan Women Tell Stories of Genocide’s Legacies

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