By Ewaoluwa Adekanye
The Ethiopia-Tigray civil war is no stranger to us, or is it? Let me give you a quick brush-up on the subject. The Ethiopia-Tigray war started on 3 November 2020 between the Ethiopian government and forces in the Northern Tigray. This crisis has led to a lot of humanitarian crises in the region. As one would expect, amidst this humanitarian crisis is the prevalence of sexual violence against women; with soldiers from both warring sides sexually violating women. The baffling part of this is that on the 3rd of November 2022, the second year of the conflict, the Ethiopian government made a peace deal with its rivals in Tigray. One would think that after making such a landmark deal, sexual violence on both sides would reduce but alas opposite has been the case.
On the contrary, there have been numerous reports of rape in the aftermath of the conflict. According to the BBC, there were reports of sexual violence just 13 days after the peace deal was signed, where a young woman was raped by two Eritrean soldiers. On a phone interview with BBC Journalists, an 80 year old woman recounted her experience of being brutally raped by three men. The physical effects of this ordeal has left her unable to control the urges to pass urine and stool. Another survivor spoke up about being taken to an empty house by two Eritrean soldiers and raped all night, afterwhich she was allowed to leave in the morning. Weeks later, she found out that she had gotten pregnant and had to have an abortion.
According to a report given by the Tigray Health Bureau in November 2022, a whopping total of 820+ women were raped within the two years of war. It is important to note that the new cases of sexual violence after the peace deal, negate all the hand-shaking and waving in front of the press by the warring parties. When asked in Kenya, Eritrea’s reclusive, President Isaias Afwerk, refuted all claims of sexual violence in the region.
According to all reports, all active fighting between both warring sides has ceased, but is the crisis truly over? Will the ripple effect of sexual violence be allowed to continue and flourish? Are women to continue being the proverbial grass suffering under the weight of two rampaging elephants?