By Cassandra Lee
Right now, October 15-22, the western world is honoring women in the anniversary of the #MeToo movement. All around the globe, women are being encouraged to speak their truth and empower survivors to heal from the egregious trauma associated with sexual violence. Yet there is a minority who are left out of these modern movements, those women, and girls whose whole lives will never be the same as they are victims of rape on the battlefield. Their bodies have been turned into compensation for blood thirsty soldiers, instructed that their enemy is not human, that their wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, and even chaste nuns are fair game for useful force.
It has been long known that rape in warfare is a tactic used by despotic regimes and expansionist empires to ensure that the women of society are so damaged by their experience, that they will never raise males to over-throw their power. In modern times, the Geneva Convention article 27 written in 1949 was established to Protect women ‘against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced’prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.’ Later in the 20th century because of the heinous acts of rape during the Yugoslavian / Balkan wars and forced impregnation by HIV infected Hutu men on Tutsi women in Rwanda the international criminal court was granted jurisdiction to rule over rape and forced pregnancies. And finally, in 2008 the UN security Council ruled that ‘rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.’ Yet in 2021, there are women facing this heinous reality all over Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Hundreds of documented cases of rape upon the Tigrayan women from the youngest recorded at only 8 years of age and women in their late 70s have been left brutally punished by mainly Eritrean soldiers and with some cases being from Ethiopian Soldiers and local Amhara militia groups.  The Ethiopian government launched an all-out war alongside the Eritrean Defense force and Fano Amhara militia on the people of Tigray in November 2021. Since then, media has been scarce, but the reports that do come out, would leave the #MeToo women in floods of tears for weeks on end. As they live in a world where their pain is being heard.’ Women like Senayit, a resident near the Tigray capital of Mekelle, live in a world where only their worst nightmares can be imagined. Senayit was drugged, tied to a tree and gang raped by Eritrean soldiers. Waking after loss of consciousness to see her children had been murdered.  The unnamed 27-year-old woman from Adigrat, who was raped by 23 soldiers of combined Ethiopian and Eritrean defense forces, who not only held her captive for 11-days of torturous sexual assault but as an act of extra punishment inserted nails, rocks and other objects into her vagina.  A month after the war broke out, 18-year-old Monalisa Abraha a local to the Tembien region of Tigray was raped and then shot at, having to have her arm and leg amputated.  These are few of hundreds of cases, some even stating that Nuns have been victims of these crimes. 
However, not only are these women’s voices being silenced by the deliberate media blackout of the Tigray region by the Ethiopian Government, but many are also left untreated for the trauma they have been through. A society where rape has been stigmatized for centuries, many of the victims are unknown, but those who do speak up and manage to reach the hospital for treatment are unable to gain access as the facilities have been looted and the stocks not replenished, with the World Health Organization saying providing health services is extremely challenging. In March 2021, Ethiopian Prime minister told CNN that those responsible for rape would be held accountable. Yet to his own political party he downplayed the rape, comparing it to his version of events that commenced the war, the attack on the northern command, stating that no one talks about the attack on the army. Humiliating the victims of weaponized rape and diminishing them to nothing. In addition to the callous words and false promises, to date, not one soldier has been held accountable for any of the atrocious sexual violence used to demoralize and dehumanize the women of Tigray.
In August 2021, Amnesty International’s secretary General Agnes Callamard is quoted by Aljazeera stating, ‘It’s clear that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on women and girls in Tigray.
The UN high Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said that the joint investigation by the OHCR and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission show clear human rights violations including sexual and gender-based violence including gang rapes that are ethnically targeted.  Despite the report, world peace foundation has concluded that the report is ‘Neither Impartial nor Independent,’ claiming that the report presents in a passive voice regarding the well-documented rape cases and obscures the findings. 
With what appears almost clinical denial of women’s rights being human rights in Tigray, the UN and others are failing to address the war crimes in any serious manner. Statements like, ‘we are concerned’ remind many of us of those who in Hollywood denied that Harvey Weinstein was guilty. After almost a year, justice for the girls and women of Tigray is a future dream. And movements such as the western #MeToo movement with trending #BeyondTheHashtag is something, the desperate women of Tigray can only hope will come to their rescue and voice their pains to the world!