Troops from Ethiopia and Eritrea in northeast Africa raped hundreds of women and girls in the Tigris conflict region, forcing some victims into sexual slavery and mutilation, according to an Amnesty International report published on Wednesday (11).
The report, drawn from interviews with 63 victims, documents abuses investigated by Ethiopian authorities, with at least three soldiers convicted of rape and 25 others prosecuted for sexual violence and rape.
Some survivors said they were gang raped while detained for weeks. Others were abused in front of family members and some said they had objects, such as nails and stones, inserted into their vaginas, “causing serious injuries, some possibly irreversible”, according to the NGO.
“It is evident that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict permanent physical and psychological damage on the women and girls of the Tiger. Hundreds of them have undergone brutal treatment with the aim of degrading and dehumanizing them, ”denounced the organization’s general secretary, Agnès Callamard. “The gravity and scale of the sex crimes committed are particularly shocking, punishable by war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity,” he added.
AFP has interviewed many women in recent months who said they had been raped by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. Fighting in the northern Tigris region began in November after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali sent the federal army to oust regional authorities from the Popular Tiger Liberation Front (TPLF).
In the opinion of Ahmed Ali, Nobel Peace Prize 2019, this operation was a response to the attacks on the federal army camps ordered by the TPLF. With the intensification of the conflict, the humanitarian toll is dramatic: according to the UN, around 400,000 people live in conditions of hunger in the Tigris, while humanitarian aid arrives with difficulty.
According to Amnesty, those accused of the abuses came from troops from neighboring Eritrea, which supported the Ethiopian prime minister, and from security forces and militias from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, on the Tigris border.
More than 20 people told Amnesty International that they had only been raped by Eritreans, while other women said Eritreans and Ethiopians were together. “They raped us and starved us to death. And there were too many of them to rape us,” said a 21-year-old woman, who claims to have been detained for 40 days. “We were about 30 women, all of them were raped.”
Tiger health centers recorded 1,288 cases of violence against women from February to April 2021, according to the report, and doctors estimate that many victims did not seek medical help or report their attackers. .