Ethiopia : Troops and militia rape, abduct women and girls in Tigray conflict – new report

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  • Sexual violence used as weapon of war in Ethiopia’s Tigray, Amnesty finds

    Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have raped hundreds of women and girls during the Tigray war, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday.

    Drawing from interviews with 63 survivors, the report sheds new light on a scourge already being investigated by Ethiopian law enforcement officials, with at least three soldiers convicted and 25 others charged.

    Some survivors said they had been gang-raped while held captive for weeks on end. Others described being raped in front of their family members.

    And some reported having objects including nails and gravel inserted into their vaginas, “causing lasting and possibly irreparable damage”, Amnesty said.

    “It’s clear that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on women and girls in Tigray,” said Amnesty’s secretary general Agnes Callamard.

    “Hundreds have been subjected to brutal treatment aimed at degrading and dehumanizing them.

    “The severity and scale of the sexual crimes committed are particularly shocking, amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”

    ‘All of us were raped’

    Northern Ethiopia has been wracked by violence since November after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent troops into Tigray to topple its regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

    He said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

    As the conflict has deepened, the humanitarian toll has spiked, with aid workers struggling to reach cut-off populations and 400,000 people facing famine-like conditions in Tigray, according to the UN.

    Alleged perpetrators of rape include government soldiers, troops from neighbouring Eritrea – which has backed up Abiy – as well as security forces and militia fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, Amnesty said.

    More than two dozen survivors told Amnesty they were raped by Eritreans alone, while others said Eritreans and Ethiopians had worked together.

    “They raped us and starved us. There were too many who raped us in rounds,” said one 21-year-old survivor who reported being held for 40 days.

    “We were around 30 women they took.... All of us were raped.”

    Investigations ongoing

    AFP has previously interviewed multiple survivors of gang rape perpetrated by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers.

    Amnesty said Wednesday that health facilities in Tigray had “registered 1,288 cases of gender-based violence from February to April 2021”, though doctors note that many survivors do not come forward.

    In February Ethiopia’s women’s minister Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed said rape had “without a doubt” taken place in Tigray. A task force she established has since sent a report to the attorney general’s office.

    On Tuesday, Filsan told AFP it was up to law enforcement officials to determine the scale of the problem and who was responsible.

    “I think they are doing their best... They have to go and really study thoroughly before they identify who committed the crimes.”

    But she added: “I would prefer them moving at a faster pace so I can say justice has been served, and I hope we will see justice being served.”

    In May, the attorney general’s office said three soldiers had been convicted and sentenced for rape and that an additional 25 had been charged with “committing acts of sexual violence and rape”.

    Investigations were continuing, it said.

    https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20210811-sexual-violence-used-as-weapon-of-war-in-ethiopia-s-tigray-amnest
    #Tigré #Ethiopie #guerre #viols #viol_comme_arme_de_guerre #abus_sexuels #violences_sexuelles

    • Ethiopia: Troops and militia rape, abduct women and girls in Tigray conflict – new report

      - Forces aligned to the Ethiopian government subjected hundreds of women and girls to sexual violence
      - Rape and sexual slavery constitute war crimes, and may amount to crimes against humanity

      Women and girls in Tigray were targeted for rape and other sexual violence by fighting forces aligned to the Ethiopian government, Amnesty International said today in a new report into the ongoing Tigray conflict.

      The report, ‘I Don’t Know If They Realized I Was A Person’: Rape and Other Sexual Violence in the Conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia, reveals how women and girls were subjected to sexual violence by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), the Amhara Regional Police Special Force (ASF), and Fano, an Amhara militia group.

      Soldiers and militias subjected Tigrayan women and girls to rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, sexual mutilation and other forms of torture, often using ethnic slurs and death threats.

      “It’s clear that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on women and girls in Tigray. Hundreds have been subjected to brutal treatment aimed at degrading and dehumanizing them,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

      “The severity and scale of the sexual crimes committed are particularly shocking, amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. It makes a mockery of the central tenets of humanity. It must stop.

      “The Ethiopian government must take immediate action to stop members of the security forces and allied militia from committing sexual violence, and the African Union should spare no effort to ensure the conflict is tabled at the AU Peace and Security Council.”

      The Ethiopian authorities should also grant access to the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission of Inquiry, and the UN Secretary General should urgently send his Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict to Tigray.

      Amnesty International interviewed 63 survivors of sexual violence, as well as medical professionals. Twenty-eight survivors identified Eritrean forces as the sole perpetrators of rape.
      Widespread sexual violence

      The pattern of acts of sexual violence, with many survivors also witnessing rape of other women, indicates that sexual violence was widespread and intended to terrorize and humiliate the victims and their ethnic group.

      Twelve survivors said soldiers and militia raped them in front of family members, including children. Five were pregnant at the time.

      Letay*, a 20-year-old woman from Baaker, told Amnesty International she was attacked in her home in November 2020 by armed men who spoke Amharic and wore a mixture of military uniforms and civilian clothing.

      She said: “Three men came into the room where I was. It was evening and already dark… I did not scream; they gestured to me not to make any noise or they would kill me. They raped me one after the other… I was four months pregnant; I don’t know if they realized I was pregnant. I don’t know if they realized I was a person.”

      Nigist*, a 35-year-old mother-of-two from Humera said she and four other women were raped by Eritrean soldiers in Sheraro on 21 November 2020.

      She said: “Three of them raped me in front of my child. There was an eight-months pregnant lady with us, they raped her too… They gathered like a hyena that saw something to eat… They raped the women and slaughtered the men.”

      Health facilities in Tigray registered 1,288 cases of gender-based violence from February to April 2021. Adigrat Hospital recorded 376 cases of rape from the beginning of the conflict to 9 June 2021. However, many survivors told Amnesty International they had not visited health facilities, suggesting these figures represent only a small fraction of rapes in the context of the conflict.

      Survivors still suffer significant physical and mental health complications. Many complained of physical trauma such as continued bleeding, back pain, immobility and fistula. Some tested positive for HIV after being raped. Sleep deprivation, anxiety and emotional distress are common among survivors and family members who witnessed the violence.
      Sexual slavery and intention to humiliate

      Twelve survivors said they were held captive for days and often weeks, and repeatedly raped, in most cases by several men. Some were held in military camps, others in houses or grounds in rural areas.

      Tseday*, 17, told Amnesty International that she was abducted by eight Eritrean soldiers in Zebangedena and held captive for two weeks. She said: “They took me to a rural area, in a field. There were many soldiers; I was raped by eight of them… Usually, they went out to guard the area in two shifts. When four of them went out, the rest stayed and raped me.”

      Blen*, a 21-year-old from Bademe, said she was abducted by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers on 5 November 2020, and held for 40 days alongside an estimated 30 other women. She said: “They raped us and starved us. They were too many who raped us in rounds. We were around 30 women they took... All of us were raped.”

      Eight women also told how they had been raped by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers and associated militia near the border with Sudan, as they sought shelter.

      Two survivors had large nails, gravel, and other types of metal and plastic shrapnel inserted into their vaginas, causing lasting and possibly irreparable damage.

      Soldiers and militia repeatedly sought to humiliate their victims, frequently using ethnic slurs, insults, threats, and degrading comments. Several survivors interviewed by Amnesty International said that the rapists had told them, “This is what you deserve” and “You are disgusting”.
      Lack of support for survivors

      Survivors and witnesses told Amnesty International that they received limited or no psychosocial and medical support since they arrived in the internally displaced persons camps in the town of Shire in Ethiopia, or in refugee camps in Sudan.

      Survivors also suffered because medical facilities were destroyed and restrictions imposed on the movement of people and goods, which hindered access to medical care. Victims and their families said they are short of food, shelter and clothes due to the limited humanitarian aid.

      Reports of sexual violence were mostly hidden from the outside world during the first two months of the conflict that began in November 2020, largely because of access restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government and the communications blackout.

      “On top of their suffering and trauma, survivors have been left without adequate support. They must be able to access the services they need and are entitled to – including medical treatment, livelihood assistance, mental healthcare and psychosocial support – which are essential aspects of a survivor-centred response,” said Agnès Callamard.

      “We must see all allegations of sexual violence effectively, independently and impartially investigated to ensure survivors receive justice, and an effective reparation program must be established. All parties to the conflict should also ensure unfettered humanitarian access.”

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/08/ethiopia-troops-and-militia-rape-abduct-women-and-girls-in-tigray-conflict-

      Pour télécharger le rapport:
      https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR2545692021ENGLISH.PDF

      #rapport #Amnesty #Amnesty_International #femmes #filles #esclavage_sexuel #milices #armées #soldats #crimes_de_guerre #crimes_contre_l'humanité