Genital maiming and Male Rape as a Political Tool in ‘Oromo war’ against the Amhara people
By Girma Berhanu
Back to Past: The Oromo Dominated Government of Ethiopia is practicing its forbidden old tradition of Genital Mutilation and Maiming´(WM).
Since the war against the Amhara people started, horrific news has appeared in the media. The most recent is what the so-called Ethiopian army committed against young males of the Amhara region that is severing their genital organs. When talking about wartime sexual violence, it is primarily images of raped women and girls, of female victims of sexual slavery, of forced pregnancies or abortions, that come to mind. But what about men who are victims of castration, genital mutilation, of cigarette burns or of acid poured on the genitals? What happens now in the Amhara region can be called emasculation. It is the removal of both the penis and the testicles, the external male sex organs. The potential medical consequences of emasculation are more extensive than those associated with castration, as the removal of the penis gives rise to a unique series of complications. In any case, according to my observation, the crime being committed by the Ethiopian Army constitutes mainly genital mutilation.
In recent months, it has come to be recognized that male and female activists, prisoners of conscience, and critical journalists in Ethiopia have been sexually abused in detention. This abuse is not a deplorable ‘part and parcel’ of prison life among hardened criminals, but instead a calculated method of submission. In Ethiopia, torture and humiliation are a means to an end. Admittedly, we do not know how common this abuse is: few current or former prisoners are willing to disclose their experiences. Instances of rape, genital maiming and mutilation, and acts of sexual violence including sodomy are under-reported by both men and women. Male survivors of sexual violence are less likely than women and girls to disclose assaults (Callender & Dartnall 2011) due to a combination of cultural and religious reasons manifested through shame, confusion, and guilt. This ongoing study uses personal accounts and anecdotal evidence to investigate the alleged abuses. The limited data indicate that genital maiming and rape have been practiced in the Amhara region during the current war in an attempt to silence dissent and humiliate the victims, Amhara civilians. This study highlights the urgent need for the international community and local human rights organizations to address seriously the needs of victims of sexual violence such as genital maiming, rape, and other obscene and sadistic, ill-treatment in the Amhara region in amidst of the war, in detention centres in the Oromia region. The human cost of silencing and the marginalization of survivors can only be estimated at present.
The project is underway and the conclusions that we can draw from this work are tentative. For many years during the TPLF regime, there have been rampant rumours that prison officials and interrogators in Ethiopia abused prisoners of conscience, journalists, and members of the opposition party. These prisoners have been exposed to unspeakable violations and are at the same time incapable of public expression in Ethiopia, where sexual abuse remains a taboo subject. Rape and the maiming of genital organs as a method of torture are part of this tragedy. Abuses are not only sexual. They are multifold: dehydration, starvation, and solitary confinement; refusal to provide basic medical care; ignoring cries for help; and varied forms of psychological abuse. We thought that such acts were a thing of the past, a distinct signature of Woyane’s thumb on Ethiopians willing to speak out.
However, currently, a similar but less recognized abuse is conducted in Oromia regional prisons and extensively in the Amhara region by the regime’s soldiers. I am compelled to write this article based on data collected from the Gojam area. The victims are Amhara civilians— 12 young male adults. They were injected with foreign materials into their penis. The purpose is still unclear. Are they injected with a virus? Is the purpose to make the penis dysfunctional and cause infertility? As I write this article, I am conversing with one of the 12 victims who happened to escape from the detention centre. He is now in hiding. We are trying to investigate the purpose and the foreign material inserted into their private organs. Such materials cannot be metabolized, and a foreign-body reaction occurs. As a result, health risks may need immediate intervention.
As may be remembered, a humiliating sexual assault was conducted on an Ethiopian Orthodox Church priest. The priest is from Yabello (Kibre Mengist), Oromia Regional State, and testified to the attempted sodomy by an Oromo police officer a few months ago. The video was viral on social media.
The recent wave of attacks on Amharas is on the verge of becoming a full-blown genocide. The war-torn Amhara Region has been cut from any means of communication, including the internet. Because the Government has recently declared a state of emergency in the Amhara region, many of these abuses have been hidden from view. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has imposed restrictions throughout the Amhara region and obstructed efforts by independent investigators, journalists, and humanitarian workers, making it difficult to verify accounts from the region. The situation has recently escalated even further, as Abiy Ahmed’s regime launched an all-out war against Fano in the Amhara region. This has created an ideal opportunity for the Oromo-dominated regime and army to launch a wide range of genital maiming and male rape as a political tool.
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Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of Ethiopia Tribune.