Friday, August 3, 2007

Sexual Violence in Cote d'Ivoire

Human Rights Watch just released a report (written by Bernstein Fellow Etelle Higonnet) on sexual violence in Cote d'Ivoire since the beginning of the armed conflict in 2002. Analyzing interviews of 176 survivors of sexual violence and 100 representatives of groups ranging from government officials to rebels to NGOs, the report finds that both government and rebel forces perpetrated horrific sexual assaults. According to one survivor:
…At the market of Tiapleu…[the rebels] tried to force my brother to rape me and he refused and so they killed him. They took me and for a week they raped me all the time, they locked me in a home. We were about ten or fifteen girls there, being raped. When they weren’t raping me I just had to be there. They used to tie me up with my legs spread apart and arms tied behind me to rape me. They’d rape me three or four of them in the night, they would put their guns next to you and if you refuse they kill you. They killed one of my friends and made us bury her…
The report further notes that the Ivoirian authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute these crimes and the survivors face insufficient medical, psychological, and social support services.

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