Rape victims’ painful voices from Afar

goEthio

BY BETELHEM BEDLU

Zahara Ahmed, 16, is a 7th grader who lives in Chifra town of the Afar State. Not only everyone around her agrees with her polite behavior, but also knows that she performs better at her education. Unfortunately, the moment the terrorist TPLF forces entered into Afar and Amhara states with their evil intents, bright girls that most people has laid their trusts on was lost in pain.

The evil forces committed heinous crimes on the society that strongly condemns beating a woman let alone raping them. Sadly, the women including Zahara who were originated from such culture became the victim of a cold-blooded sexual assault. Experiencing such evil act that is far-off from the culture, most women raped by forces of the rebellious faction consider the situation as a disgrace and decided to isolate themselves from the society.

 Keeping the painful incident to herself was the first choice of Zahara as well. However, as time went by, the painful incident coupled with the feeling of resentment could not let her stay in hiding. Thus, she decided to go to her village. “Around 10 o’clock, TPLF forces started shooting while entering our

 town. I was out to buy something. When they saw me, they threatened me, and tried to force them to go to them but I refused and went to my business. But two members of the group stayed behind. When I tried to escape, they beat me and hurt my hand badly. Then, they raped me.”

She went on saying that “since I was a student, I had never got involved with any men. That is why I felt that they killed me as my body and mind bleed when they raped me. I do not know what happened after that. I just fled to the forest. I hid there for about a month. As time went by, my wound became worse but I had no place to go to get medical treatment.”

When the town was freed from TPLF forces, Zahra decided to return home because hiding would make her physically and psychologically troubled. However, when she returned, her house was turned into ashes. Everything was stolen. They killed her father, brother and uncle. The only ones surviving from her families were the women. Zahara said that with all this pain she was mostly worried about her health situation.

 However, she had no money and a place to stay for the night let alone affording to a medical care. “I would be happy if I had someone who understands my situation. It is for the sake of Afar women who suffer behind their doors that I decided to go public. Everyone should know what the TPLF terrorist group perpetrated on me and my fellow sisters.”

Zahra Ali Areba, another rape survivor exposed the radical element’s evil act. “When the dissidents entered into our town, we made the men leave the village as we believed that they would not harm the women. However, when they arrived, they started shooting the rest of the men as well as our camels.”

“As the gunfire increased, I went outside and that is when I fell into the hands of TPLF forces. There were six of them at the moment but one member of the group approached me and hit me to the floor and raped me while I fell on the ground.”

“Not only is it difficult considering the fact that I am a married woman but what happened to me is very far from our culture and human nature. Apart from the physical pain, the psychological trauma is also deep,” she stressed.

The first victim further highlighted that the cultural and psychological pressure forbade her from engaging with the society though she returned to Chifra to get a place to live and medical treatment.

“Once my husband learnt what happened to me, he joined the militia. However, the group killed the brothers of my father and mother. When we returned to our village, our house and properties were destroyed. Though I dare tell my story, there are a number of women who still hold their pain. I ask everyone to get my voices across to those women who are hiding in pain.”

The January 5/2022

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