Build Healthy Relationships in100 Rwandan Couples

by Global Grassroots
Jul 21, 2011

July 9, filming a documentary called "Inheritance"

Why this title, "Inheritance"? We met two women with different stories of domestic violence, and we had a conversation with them. Some of their comments will be shown in the video, while others will remain private.

One woman escaped one day when her husband came back home drunk and took a machete to kill her. The machete took the leg of her 20-year-old son. The man was taken to the police, and the family-in-law gathered and complained to that woman that in Rwandan culture, it is not good to accuse your husband. “This is an abomination,” they said. So the wife went to the police to ask for the husband to be released.

She told me that she has been married for 25 years, but not one of of the days has she heard her husband call her ‘honey’, and not one of the days has she seen her husband give her a gift. So she is like a slave in her home, doing everything to sustain her life with her children, looking for food, clothes, school fees, and medical care...

The main image we captured was her different chores during the day and her sleeping outside in the banana trees at night. She mentioned the many types of violence she faces, and we asked her why this happens to women. She replied, “It is inheritance from our culture. It is settled in the minds of men that they have power over women and no one can stop them.”

The second woman we talked to was a woman with HIV/AIDS who sleeps outside under a banana tree and covers herself and her five children with a mosquito net. She told us her story. After both she and her husband were tested positive for HIV, he kicked her and her children out of the house. When people tried to help her by building a small house for them, he came and destroyed it.

You couldn’t believe the miserable life that this woman is living, unless you could see it. I was about to cry when I was doing the interview.  Does this wife have any hope of going back to her husband? We need to work hard on changing this mindset. Sharing a true story may be the way to handle the issue of violence, but not every story can be shared in an interview. Sometimes, we need actors to replace the true women who keep silent.

Today, July 21st, we finished editing a feature-length drama. That documentary is in the editing process. From our experience filming the inheritance story, we remembered that women are suffering physically; they are being beaten because even though there is a law protecting against beatings, the culture is a challenge. Psychological abuse is even higher because many men know that if they beat their wives, they can be reported to the police. So instead, they are silent: no communication, no money given, no food… he keeps quiet and goes out to find a little girl to have affair with him. And there is the sexual abuse– either he can refuse you and go out to find someone else, or he can come home and expect it from his wife, without caring whether you like it or not.


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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Gretchen Wallace
President and Founder
Hanover, NH United States

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