Ethiopia (MNN) — For months, a civil war has raged in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Read more about the war here.
Forces aligned with the Ethiopian government have carried out mass sexual violence against women and girls in Tigray. One local pastor talked about it with Eric Foley of The Voice of the Martyrs Korea. He says soldiers asked him the whereabouts of a certain woman in order to attack her. He has also visited hospitals and seen a special wing designated for rape victims.
The pastor says this kind of violence is being used as psychological warfare. One daughter was raped in front of her father as a way of punishing him for supporting the Tigray side of the war.
Foley says the number of these crimes has even been underreported. “Crimes related to rape in these kinds of honor and shame cultures often go unreported. In these cultures, a woman who admits that she’s been raped brings shame to her family and also jeopardizes her possible future as a woman. She can’t get married. She can’t be considered an honorable or honest woman. These are issues which we as Christians should be especially sensitive to.”
As Tigray edge closer to famine, hunger is being used as a weapon against the region as well. The Ethiopian government has been accused of obstructing aid to the region, which has remained largely cut off from the rest of the world since the initial invasion. Officials say food warehouses are nearly empty.
But the conflict, which began in November of 2020, continues unabated. Tigray forces recaptured the Tigray capital Mekelle in July. The Ethiopian government declared a ceasefire, but the fighting continued. Ethiopia’s prime minister recently urged all Ethiopian citizens to take up arms and join the fight as well.
The work of the Church
Regardless of how the war ends, countless lives have been affected by the violence. Foley says people have flocked to the church during this time. “They’re bringing their dead to the church. They’re mourning at the church. I think what happens in these long-term, protracted conflicts is people lose hope that politics can solve the problem.”
Ask God to comfort and protect the victims of sexual violence in Tigray. Pray Christians would demonstrate Jesus’ love.
The header photo shows a destroyed military vehicle in the Tigray region. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)