I've read about how the Belgians issued ID cards to the inhabitants of their colony Ruanda-Urundi (later independent under the names of Rwanda and Burundi):

Indeed, the Belgian colonists classified a person as Tutsi if they had a long nose (or ten cows).

However, I was not able to find any information on whether these were applied to men and women alike or whether different means of distinction were used for women.

Were phenotypical features and wealth also distinctive for women, or were women categorized along other means, e.g. their husband's / father's categorization?

  • 1
    I found the tag women used very seldomly in this forum, so I wanted to make sure the focus of the question is understood. If you find it weird/offensive, I can sure edit that; it was a spontaneous decision...
    – PikkuKatja
    Oct 16, 2015 at 7:20
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    The thought behind the question was the following: If the categorization was also by wealth, it would be interesting if women were allowed to own property. And for both wealth and phenotypical features, the Belgians behind it might have "not bothered" with even more registration but just registered the women in line with their closest relative. However, this is just an idea and I have no proof on it, so I did not want to speculate in the question already but only state the simple question without my line of thoughts behind. Would it be better to ammend the question?
    – PikkuKatja
    Oct 16, 2015 at 7:21
  • From Figure 2 in C.Andre 2018 "Phrenology and the Rwandan genocide" it appears that quite a number of characteristics (skull width, eye color, nose width etc) were measured by Belgian "specialists". It seems likely that these proponents of scientific racism would have had separate charts for men and women. But I can find no direct evidence, the figures only show men.
    – 0range
    Jan 27, 2020 at 17:03
  • There are historical articles like Ethel Albert 1960 "Socio-political..." (paywall, sorry) that follow the same doctrines of scientific racism that the Belgians would have applied. They argue that there were almost no intermarriages (and discuss the frequency of intermarriages also between subgroups of classified Tutsi and Hutu groups at length). Consequently, the Belgian "specialists" would probably have considered not only the particular woman's characteristics, but also those of her relatives and perhaps those of her husband.
    – 0range
    Jan 27, 2020 at 17:09
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    If I recall correctly, Belgium pulled something out of the British colonial rulebook - rule through a minority, rather than a majority. The minority thus depends on the colonial power for their continued status. The Tutsis already had a patronage relationship with their Hutu clients - and cow ownership was part of that. Another example is that a Hutu had to have a Tutsi (patron) intercede on their behalf in case of conflict with a Tutsi. This implies a whole pre-existing classification system which the Belgians formalized for their own benefit. Jan 27, 2021 at 19:23


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