European Interest

Press statement on weaponised sexual violence, notably in Tigray, Ethiopia

flickr/Josef Weidenholzer/CC BY 2.0

Women’s Rights Committee Chair Evelyn Regner and EPP Coordinator Frances Fitzgerald address the extreme sexual violence and rape used as a weapon by soldiers against Tigrayan women.

“Sexual violence against women and girls has been used as a weapon of war for centuries. Unfortunately, it is still the case in many conflicts throughout the world and the civil war in northern Ethiopia is yet another example of it. More than 500 women have formally reported sexual violence – but the toll is expected to be much higher”, explains Evelyn Regner (S&D, AT), Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. “Sexual violence and rape are to be condemned and addressed by leaders worldwide as President Biden already did. These atrocities have to come to an end and soldiers as well as their commanders involved in these acts have to be convicted”, she adds.                             EPP Coordinator Frances Fitzgerald (IE) emphasises: “I am deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Tigray and Ethiopia and particularly the prevalence of sexual violence and rape being used as weapons of war. Rape and sexual violence are not weapons, but crimes, crimes against women and their dignity. We should have learned the lessons of sexual violence in conflict centuries ago, not least with the conflicts of the 1990s in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina, yet it persists. I am glad to see this being raised at the UN Security Council and in the Foreign Affairs Council, but we must continue to advance the ideals of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security if we are to end this horrific crime once and for all.”

The current armed conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has caused hundreds of civilian deaths and the mass displacement of people. The Tigray region is the fifth most populated region in Ethiopia with over six million people, and is home to 100 000 internally displaced people and 96 000 Eritrean refugees.

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