from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – SEXUAL violence, including gang rape, against women and girls in Ethiopia’s war torn Tigray region has left the world in shock.
This is according to the United Nations envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, as the conflict escalates.
Sexual violence is rife in the remote, mountainous regions of North and Central Tigray.
Humanitarian actors, service providers, assessment teams and journalists have disclosed the violations since they were recently allowed to the troubled areas.
Reports have emerged of men in uniform, using rape and gang rape systematically; holding women and girls captive for days and repeatedly assaulting them. Perpetrators are reportedly targeting young girls and pregnant women; forcing family members to watch their mothers, daughters, wives and sisters being brutally violated.
“Images of the brutality of the violence and terror being inflicted on women and girls have sent shock waves around the world,” Patten said.
She said healthcare workers were documenting new cases of rape and gang-rape daily, despite their fear of reprisals and attacks on the limited shelters and clinics still in operation.
Patten’s office has been following the situation in Tigray since November 2020 when the crisis began.
“Since then I have been extremely concerned by the numerous and horrific reports received from multiple and credible sources, about the extent and cruelty of acts of sexual violence being committed against women and girls,” she said.
The envoy added, “Testimonies of some brave survivors revealed the brutal and hideous war being waged on the bodies of women and girls.”
She called for a ceasefire.
The conflict started towards the end of 2020 when the regional government rebelled against the national administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
– CAJ News