Ivory Coast: Rape Victims Suffer Anonymity in Conflict
March 27, 2007
Since the start of civil war between government and rebel forces in 2002, an unknown number of Ivory Coast women have been raped and sexually assaulted. Human rights groups, who say the incidents have been grossly underestimated, are calling for attention to the problem.
According to Salvatore Sagues, an Amnesty International researcher, the majority of the rapes occurred in the western part of the country when armed groups abducted women and forced them to become sex slaves for the fighters. Many of the women were frequently gang-raped. "What appears now is that there are hundreds of survivors of these acts who are having great difficulty just living," he said. "They do not have the means to get HIV tests, or when they have HIV, they cannot get treatment because they do not have health care."
Some of the worst cases of sexual abuse have been committed by mercenaries from other African nations aligned with opposition groups, Amnesty International said.
Worse, a peace deal brokered earlier this month between President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro could allow the rapists to go unpunished. "Given the fact there was such a widespread use of rape and sexual assault with total impunity means both parties used rape as a weapon of war to instill terror and to humiliate the victims, their families, and the community to which they belong," said Sauges.
"We are asking the judicial system to investigate these cases, to charge and to try the people who are responsible for these crimes," Sagues said.
Voice of America News
3.15.2007; Kari Barber
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.