Ethiopian and Eritrean troops have raped hundreds of women and girls during the Tigray war, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation.
Human rights group Amnesty International released a report [pdf] on the matter on August 11th.
It is mostly based on interviews with 63 survivors, and it provides some insight into 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.
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 dehumanising them.
“The severity and scale of the sexual crimes committed are particularly shocking, amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”
Alleged perpetrators of rape include government soldiers, troops from neighbouring Eritrea, as well as security forces and militia fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region, Amnesty said.
These are all fighting on the side of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
More than 12 survivors told Amnesty they were raped by Eritreans only, 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.”
Acts of sexual violence were widespread and intended to instil fear and “humiliate” the victims and their ethnic group, Amnesty noted.
Soldiers and militia frequently used “ethnic slurs, insults, threats, and degrading comments”, the group said. Several survivors said that their rapists had told them, “This is what you deserve” and “You are disgusting”.
Amnesty said health facilities in Tigray had “registered 1,288 cases of gender-based violence from February to April 2021”, although doctors note that many survivors do not come forward.
While many complained of physical trauma such as “continued bleeding, back pain, immobility and fistula”, others tested positive for HIV after being raped, the group said.
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.
If Amnesty International’s reports are true, this is the side for which Nobel Peace Prize Winner Abiy Ahmed is calling for people to mobilize for and recapture Tigray from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Ethiopian Government Calls On Citizens To Mobilize And Crush Tigray’s Forces
- Ethiopia At The Crossroads. Or Is It The End Of The Road?