According to medical records and testimony from survivors shared with CNN, women are being gang-raped, drugged and held hostage. According to a video watched by CNN and one of the doctors treating her, in one case a woman’s vagina was filled with stones, nails and plastic.
According to doctors, almost all women narrate similar stories of being raped by soldiers in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The women said that the army was on a self-proclaimed mission of retaliation and was operating in the region with near-total influence.
A CNN team in Hemdayate, a sleepy Sudanese city on the Ethiopian border, where thousands of Tigre refugees have gathered in recent months, spoke with several women who were described as being raped as they fled.
One woman said of her attacker, “He pushed me and said, ‘You have no history of Tigrance, you have no culture. I can do what I want you to do and nobody cares.” ” She told CNN that she is now pregnant.
Many say they were raped by Amhara forces who told them they were ethnically intended to clean the Tigre, a doctor working at a refugee camp in Hamdet told CNN.
“The women who have been raped say that when she was raping them, what they say is that they need to change their identity – either they are Amhares or they at least have their To leave Tigrinya status… and that they have it to cleanse them… to clean the bloodline, ”Dr. Tedros Tefera said.
“Practically it has been a massacre,” he said.
The flood of refugees has become a difficult one as Ethiopia’s military has strengthened the border in recent times, worrying refugees who are still hoping to reintegrate with family members.
The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea did not immediately respond to comments on CNN’s allegations that their forces were carrying out a coordinated campaign of sexual violence against women in Tigray.
New reports of sexual violence come in the form of US President Joe Biden who sends Senator Chris Kons to meet Abi and express concern to the US about “the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region.” The State Department has called for an independent investigation into atrocities during the First War.
The government of Ethiopia has recently severely restricted access to journalists, making it challenging to verify the accounts of survivors. And an intermittent communication blackout during the fighting has effectively blocked the war from the eyes of the world. But in recent weeks, as foreign journalists have been allowed, horrific stories of rape and sexual violence have begun to surface.
One of the survivors told Channel 4 News that she and five other women were gang-raped by 30 Eritran soldiers, who were joking and taking pictures during the entire attack. She said that she knew that they were Eritrean soldiers because of their dialect and uniform. She said that she was able to return home to rape again. When he tried to escape, he was held by soldiers for 10 days, injected with a drug, tied to a rock, stripped, stabbed and raped.
Outside the safe house, many more women and young girls are being treated at the Aider Referral Hospital, the main medical facility in the regional capital, Mekele. Channel 4 News reported that most of the rural areas have been referred by hospitals that are not equipped to handle rape cases.
A doctor at the hospital told CNN that more than 200 women were admitted for sexual violence in recent months, but there have been many more cases in rural villages and centers displaced for internal care, including medical care There is no limit to it.
Between the lack of access to medical services and the stigma surrounding sexual violence, doctors told CNN in interviews that they suspect the exact number of rape cases is much higher than official reports.
A coordinator at a gender-based violence crisis center in Tigray told CNN that they used to hear cases once every few days or once a week. He said that since the conflict, every day 22 women and girls seek treatment for rape.
In recent months, demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections has also increased. Many of the women who have been raped have contracted sexual diseases, including HIV, doctors told CNN.
A doctor said that many of the women he treated were also physically abused, with broken bones and parts of the body. She said that she was the youngest girl who was 8 years old, while she was 60 years old.
The doctor said that many women who come forward share the stories of others who are not – mothers, sisters, friends and other acquaintances.
A spokesman for the United Nations Human Rights Office told CNN that they would jointly investigate allegations of serious human rights violations in Tigray in conjunction with the EHRC.
CNN’s Nima Elbagir and Barbara Arvanitidis reported from Hamdet. Eliza McIntosh wrote and reported from London. Bethlehem Feleke reported from Nairobi. Gianluca Mezzofior and Katie Polgales reported from London.