Tigrayan rebels in Ethiopia forced about 400 women and girls to work as prostitutes at their base, Amnesty International claimed Tuesday, a report it called “shocking and horrific.”
The report accused the rebels of forcing at least 400 women and girls to perform sex acts as young as 14 during a 19-month period in 2017 and 2018. The report cites testimonies from survivors.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front-Democratic Unity is a secessionist group.
On Twitter, the group warned its members: “We will not forget any innocent Tigrayan woman and girl who was forced to work as prostitutes in our fighting units.”
At least 1,000 women and girls have been forced to work as prostitutes in the borders of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt since 2010.
In 2015, the rebels targeted approximately 300 women and girls in the Ngaga region, according to the report.
“The intimidation and abuse that people subjected to this forced labor experience is horrifying. They lost sleep, had to move to different villages on a daily basis, were exposed to various threats, and even experienced attempted rape. The emotional and psychological impacts on these women and girls will remain an open wound for years to come,” said Janet Valhouliak, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher.
“The Tigray People’s Liberation Front-Democratic Unity has in recent years been increasing its efforts to extort revenue from migrant workers from the Horn of Africa region. They have also orchestrated a campaign of intimidation against women and girls who do not adhere to their rules,” added Valhouliak.
The Ethiopian government denied the charge saying the rebel group even recruited women and girls to perform sex acts.
The government added it is working with the UN-affiliated women’s agency, UNIFEM, to identify victims and assist them.
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