On 4 November 2020 the Ethiopian army began a military offensive against the Tigray region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Four months later the ongoing conflict has killed thousands of civilians, displaced over two million, forced thousands of refugees to flee to Sudan, and caused widespread destruction.
At the end of January the United Nations (UN) Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict reported that serious allegations of sexual violence by conflict parties were being reported. Women reported being gang raped, family members were forced to rape members of their own family at gunpoint, and women were forced to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.
Communication blackouts and restrictions on journalists’ access to the region made it difficult to verify survivors’ accounts; however, as more journalists are allowed in, horrific stories of sexual violence have begun to emerge. Doctors, nurses and aid workers have reported an alarming increase in accounts of women being drugged, held captive and gang raped, and there is emerging evidence that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war and humiliation, with one doctor describing the attacks as effectively a form of genocide.
Some women have described how while they were being raped the rapists said that they were “cleansing the blood lines’’ of the women they were raping and that these women needed to change their Tigrayan identity. Another woman recalls Eritrean soldiers saying while raping her that they were ordered “to come after the women”, while another woman recalls Eritrean soldiers saying that their actions were revenge against Tigray.
This document analysis a sample of 36 reported incidents of sexual violence that occurred in Tigray region between November 2020 and March 2021. Among this sample, 106 women and girls were affected by sexual violence and at least 144 different perpetrators were involved. Get this data on HDX.
This sample was selected because the descriptions of the incidents contained sufficient details to allow the nature and patterns of the violence that occurred to be described in this document. It is not known to what extent these examples are unique or similar to the hundreds of other incidents of sexual violence that have been reported by various hospitals around the region and by UN and other humanitarian organisations.