A 71-year-old man from Rwanda has been living in isolation for 55 years because of an extreme fear of women, a condition known as gynophobia. Callitxe Nzamwita built a 15-foot wooden fence around his house to avoid contact with women as young as 16. An 8-minute documentary sheds light on his unique life of solitude.
In an interview, he explained, “I locked myself inside and built a fence because I want to make sure that women will not come closer to me.” He admitted that interacting with women triggered overwhelming fear.
Ironically, despite his fear, local women, especially his neighbors, have been helping him stay alive. They have provided him with essential food and groceries, although from a distance, as he prefers minimal contact. They throw these items into his home, which he retrieves when he feels comfortable.
Whenever a woman approaches, he quickly goes back into his house and locks himself inside. Reports suggest that he may be suffering from gynophobia, which is an irrational fear of women. Although it’s not formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it’s often considered a specific phobia in clinical contexts.
Nzamwita sleeps on a makeshift pillow made from blankets and dried leaves inside a raised wooden shelter to avoid getting too close to the fire. He has a shallow pit for urination in front of his bed and a second bed that doubles as a place for supplies, which he gets from women.
Gynophobia can lead to intense anxiety at the mere thought of women and physical reactions like panic attacks, sweating, rapid heartbeats, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.