Home Society I’ve Endured Discrimination for Fourty Years – Bearded Rubavu Woman

I’ve Endured Discrimination for Fourty Years – Bearded Rubavu Woman

by Eddy Abayisenga
11:02 am

Monique Mukandutiye, 54 from Rubavu, Busasamana sector, has sorrowfully expressed her concern about acute harassment she has been receiving from her neighbors for 40 years because of her beard.

The mother of five, whose facial hair is conspicuous, said that this is how she came to be and that the first indications of her beards appeared when she was in the seventh year of primary school aged 14.

“At first, there were about three beards, but I couldn’t tell. While I was in class, I heard other students say that Monique got grey hair and now has a beard,” she told Kigali Today.

“These beards grew year by year. I finished my seventh year but was tardy for my eighth year as I failed the national examination thrice. This forced my mother to take me to a private school – APEFOC Nyundo High School.”

Mukandutiye claimed that she faced serious conundrums in high school because her beard had grown so much, and everywhere she passed they said, “Look at the girl with the beard.”

“Some said that I would never find a husband. I was scared and felt like I was going to collapse but I remained a long-suffering person. My mother comforted me, but she also seemed bothered by it.”

Mukandutiye said that she continued to face problems, “There were some who I passed by and insulted me so much. My mom kept consoling me and being by my side throughout my adolescence, and that’s when she thought about it and went to the doctors, who told her that it was hormones.”

She noted that despite this trouble, the guys were not afraid to approach her, with some telling her that they would love her until she married the man she is currently with, who started dating her when her beard began to be visible.

The 54-year-old woman studied law and administration in high school prior to becoming a teacher.

“I requested a job but did not find it because I thought as someone who studied law and administration I would work in the office, in the judiciary or as a leader. So, I went into teaching for two years when I was dismissed for not having a degree in education,” she said.

Mukandutiye who, ever since went into farming pointed out that choosing not to shave her beard dodges it from continuing to grow and spread all over the face and create more embarrassment.

She said that she has been living in fear because of the discrimination added to the harassment that she endures from strangers due to facial hair.

“Up to this day, I don’t feel safe in my life; I seem like a thief everywhere I go which hurts my heart. Sometimes people chase me when  I pass somewhere. My husband has never discriminated against me, but he sometimes appears discouraged,” she said.

She revealed that she is saddened by people, who continue to ostracize her, threatening to undress her to find out whether she is a woman or a man. “I told them that I’m a woman and I have five children, you know!”

“I’m worried they will kill me. Occasionally, when I’m in the planting field and see an attack of about 20 kids coming, saying that you have beard, we beat you. As a human, I sometimes find myself fighting them when self-control falters.”

Mukandutiye emphasized that she was subjected to violence until the time she was hit on the back with a stick while on her way to her land, at which point she went to Gisenyi Hospital for medical care.

She further asked local leaders for protection to keep her safe so that she could continue to find what would improve her and her family.

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