Tigray women struggle to heal in the wake of systematic sexual assault

By October 5, 2023

Ethiopia (MNN) — In the Tigray region of Ethiopia, rebuilding has begun in the wake of a brutal civil war that ended in 2022. The fighting cut the region off from the rest of the world.

Invading forces used mass sexual assault against women and girls of the region as a weapon of psychological warfare. Read more coverage about this issue from MNN here.

Eric Foley of the Voice of the Martyrs Korea works with Christians in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. He says even as the nation declared a three-day mourning period to honor the combatants who lost their lives during the two-year violent war that ended in November 2022, life for survivors can be difficult.

Cultural attitudes of shame in the region make these horrific assaults even worse. He tells of one woman who was sexually assaulted in a hospital. “She contracted AIDS. So she has to go to a clinic for HIV medication. But every time she goes, she wraps herself with a shawl so that our face is hidden in our identity is concealed. She hasn’t even told her daughters that she has HIV.”

Foley says if a woman admits to sexual assault, the surrounding culture considers it to be shame upon her and her family. But Christians in the region, following Jesus’ example, push against this idea.

Pray these women would find hope and freedom in Jesus and the community of His people. “The ongoing horror for this group of people is unabated. Hebrews 13:3 says, ‘Remember those in prison, as though you are with them in prison.’ And in many ways, this whole region has become like a prison.”

Soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, a notoriously difficult place for Christians, have also been active in the Tigray war. Foley says, “There are Christians who have been kidnapped from the refugee camps that were raided and sent back to Eritrea. We need to pray for those Christians who are literally in prison.”



Header image is a representative photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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