from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – AN armed group linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) has kidnapped and enslaved more than 600 women and girls in northern Mozambique since 2018.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the violation in the Cabo Delgado province.
The armed group, known locally as Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) and Al-Shabab has also allegedly forced young women and girls to “marry” their fighters, who enslave and sexually abuse them.
Others have been sold to foreign fighters for between 40 000 and 120 000 Meticais (US$600 to US$1 800).
Abducted foreign women and girls, in particular, have been released after their families paid ransom, the human rights group disclosed.
“Al Shabab’s leaders should immediately release every woman and girl in their captivity,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at HRW.
“They should take all necessary steps to prevent rape and sexual abuse by their fighters, end child marriage, forced marriage, and the sale and enslavement of women and girls at their bases and areas of operation.”
HRW reported it documented the violations between August 2019 and October 2021.
It remotely interviewed 37 people, including former abductees, their relatives, security sources, and government officials and monitored media reports about kidnappings.
HRW has called on the armed group to release all civilians, especially women and girls, in its custody.
The government is urged to ensure humane treatment for all those rescued from armed groups.
Local authorities, international and regional partners, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have been urged to provide reintegration and rehabilitation services, including comprehensive post-rape care, to rescued women and girls.
The authorities must investigate and prosecute Al-Shabab for abductions, child and forced marriages, rape and sexual violence, enslavement and other gender-based crimes.
– CAJ News