In an interview with Tigrai TV, four Tigrayan women describe how Eritrean troops raped them, using slurs. Two are from Gijet, southern Tigray and two are from Zalembessa, a border town in the Tigray-Eritrea border.
Gijet, Southern Tigray
One of the women from Gijet with double crosses dangling from her neck tells her rape thus “I saw them first in the hill. Then, unexpectedly they arrived at our house. He pulled out a knife and he demanded I enter a room. I said “no”. He then grabbed my hair and pulled me. There, he raped me. Then he threatened me not to tell about it. He took out an Eritrean Nakfa note in a manner for me to identify him as Eritrean ‘See, I am Eritrean. There is nothing you can do about it’. He said ‘Stay put here, I will come back’ and he left”.
The other woman from Gijet, clearly with a baby on her back, tells what happened to her thus “I rape you or I slaughter you with this knife, he demanded. I will stay here; we won’t go away, he said. We will stay here. Don’t think this is all we will do to you.”
Both women said the Eritrean troops also looted whatever property they had. The first woman said “The international community should remember us.” The second woman said “we Tigrayans women have been attacked violently. We ask justice from the IC”.
Zalambessa, Eastern Tigray
She is a mother of seven. She tells about how Eritrean troops raped her: “They are Eritrean troops. I came home, opened my house and entered. They entered following me. One then said ‘come over here’. ‘We are not going to let you have a bastard child; we are instead going to mess with the Tigrayan womb with nails, iron and sand’. I said ‘why? We are innocent civilians. I said ‘What have we done to you? I don’t think this is right coming from you?’ He replied ‘we don’t know you, Agame*. It is exactly you who we want. Today, we take our revenge on the junta Debretsion’. Then three of them raped me until my urine and faeces were mixed and running together. This deed was committed upon me. I didn’t know something like this could ever be committed. Out of shame, I told no one and I was just living in hiding.”
Another woman, fearing for the Eritrean troops, fled Zalambessa to Adigrat. “He was sometimes speaking Amharic and also Tigrinya. I was so shocked I didn’t pay attention to what he was saying. I have been hiding until now. After I came to Adigrat, around November, I was walking, they took me and raped me on the side of the road. When they heard other voices, they threw me there and left”.
A recent study by Tigray Health Bureau & Mekelle University found that, only in the liberated areas of Tigray, more than 120,000 females aged between 15-49 have been raped by Ethiopian, Eritrean & Amhara forces. This doesn’t include Western Tigray & Eritrea-occupied areas.
*Agame is the name of a historical province in Tigray corresponding more or less to today’s Eastern Tigray zone; Eritreans use it as a derogatory word to refer to Tigrayans.