Ethiopia Uses Systematic Rape Against Woman And Girls
The conflict in Ethiopia is creating horrifying humanitarian implications, especially for women and children. Several reports have confirmed that the Ethiopian military and their allies are deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force, intimidation, and mass rape. Ethiopian and Eritrean forces are accused of war crimes that include systematic rape, mass looting, pillaging, and the wanton destruction of everything from banks to crops to hospitals. There have been widespread reports of massacres and mass rape. Researchers from the University of Ghent have compiled a detailed list of 1,900 Tigrayans killed in more than 150 mass killings since the start of the conflict.
More than 1,200 cases of sexual violence and rape were documented by health centers in Tigray between February and April 2021 alone. Several women and girls described being raped multiple times by multiple men over days or weeks. Several women have reported that they were raped in front of family members including small children. In some cases, family members were forced to engage in incest between male and female relatives. Women and girls also reported being tortured by having nails, knives, gravel, and shrapnel forces into their vaginas.
Doctors say cases of rape, gang rape, and extreme sexual violence are being reported every day and they believe rape is being used systematically as collective punishment on Tigray. When the Eritrean or Ethiopian forces lost a battle, they take revenge on civilians in the surrounding areas. Rape has been used as a weapon of war; a USAID report includes testimony from a woman who recalled her rapist saying he was “cleansing the blood lines” of Tigrayan women. Hundreds of women and girls in Tigray have reported being subjected to horrific sexual violence and rape with levels of cruelty beyond comprehension by Ethiopian and allied Eritrean soldiers and militias. According to an Amnesty International report, perpetrators appeared to act without fear of punishment from their commanders.
“All of these forces from the very beginning, everywhere, and for a long period of time felt it was perfectly OK with them to perpetrate these crimes because they clearly felt they could do so with impunity, nothing holding them back,” Donatella Rovera told The Associated Press.
The assaults in Tigray have left many women with mental and physical challenges, including HIV infections, STIs, and pregnancy. In March, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged that reports “indicate that atrocities have been committed in Tigray region.” Ethiopia’s government said it had previously acknowledged that “some members of the armed forces have engaged in conduct that is contrary to the clear rules of engagement and direction they have been given.”
While Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said those responsible should be held accountable, he also claimed all criticisms and reports were “propaganda of exaggeration. Ethiopia’s government claims verified and well documented reports of war crimes by its forces are “sensationalized attacks and smear campaigns” against its alleged "good" reputation. Eritrea’s information minister Yemane Gebremeskel in a Trump styled tweet accused the US based human rights NGO Amnesty International of having a “hostile agenda” against Ethiopia. Earlier this year, Ethiopia’s government claims that three soldiers had been convicted and 25 others indicted for rape and other acts of sexual violence but there is no actual information verified by a neutral third party to show that this is true.
Despite a joint investigation by the United Nations human rights office and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into alleged atrocities in Tigray, Ethiopia's government has not allowed independent human rights researchers into the region. Most of the reported atrocities have been committed by Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Amhara forces. Although Tigray People's Liberation Front-linked groups have also been linked to at least one mass killing which killed hundreds of civilians including over 100 children, at a camp for internally displaced people in Ethiopia’s Afar region.
Multiple countries worldwide have condemned Abiy's violent crackdown. Human rights defenders plus investigators now demand to be allowed into Tigray and an end to hostilities. Famine and displacement are now on the horizon for hundreds of thousands. The United States has declared sanctions for Ethiopia and its leadership. At least 900,000 people in Tigray face famine conditions. 5.5 million people are in dire need of food aid. 62,000 people have been forced to flee the country into Sudan. Countless women and girls are now in need of medical assistance for the brutal abuse and rape they have been subjected to.
YAC has reached out for inquiry from Prime Minister Abiy but he's blocked us on social media instead.