6 October 2017

Central African Republic: Rebels Accused of Rape Spree in CAR Conflict

Photo: Financial Gazette
(file photo).

Kinshasa — ARMED groups in the Central African Republic have abused rape and sexual slavery as a tactic of war. The serious human rights violations have persisted during the five-year conflict between Christian militants and Muslim radicals. The predominantly Muslim Seleka and the largely Christian and animist militia known as anti-balaka, have used sexual violence as revenge for perceived support of those on the other side of the sectarian divide. Army commanders have allegedly tolerated widespread sexual violence by their forces and, in some cases, appear to have ordered it or committed it themselves. Due to stigma, under-reporting by survivors, and security-related restrictions on research, the full number of sexual violence incidents by armed groups during the conflict is undoubtedly higher, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. "Armed groups are using rape in a brutal, calculated way to punish and terrorize women and girls," said Hillary Margolis, women's rights researcher at HRW. "Every day, survivors live with the devastating aftermath of rape, and the knowledge that their attackers are walking free, perhaps holding positions of power, and to date facing no consequences whatsoever." In a 176-page report released Thursday, HRW documented 305 cases of rape and sexual slavery carried out against 296 women and girls by members of armed groups between early 2013 and mid-2017. During attacks, fighters whipped women and girls, tied them up, burned them and threatened them with death. Survivors reported broken bones and smashed teeth, internal injuries and head trauma. Some survivors fell pregnant from the rapes. - CAJ News

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