In looking for an escape and refugee, 21 Somali women and girls have made claims of being raped by the same people who were to protect them. According to Al Jazeera, women and girls have reportedly been gang-raped by African Union soldiers as well as made to barter sex in exchange for food, medical treatment and other kinds of humanitarian aid, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report found.
“Some of the women who were raped said that the soldiers gave them food or money afterwards in an apparent attempt to frame the assault as transactional sex,” HRW said in the report released Monday.
“They have also raped or otherwise sexually assaulted women who were seeking medical assistance or water at [AU] bases,” the report stated.
AMISOM said the alleged rapes were “isolated” incidents and called the report “unbalanced and unfair”.
The vulnerable women largely came from camps in the capital Mogadishu, having fled rural Somalia during a devastating famine in 2011.
AMISOM donors include the EU and the US.
The AU soldiers, “relying on Somali intermediaries, have used a range of tactics, including humanitarian aid, to coerce vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity”, the report read, based on testimonies of 21 women and girls.
“They have also raped or otherwise sexually assaulted women who were seeking medical assistance or water at AMISOM bases.”
The youngest interviewed was aged just 12, who said she was raped by a Ugandan soldier.
Human Rights Watch and the African Union are allegedly investigating the rapes.