13, Mar 2018 | CJP Team
French medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) has said that militia fighters abducted and raped a large number of women in a remote area of Central African Republic in February 2018. MSF said the women had left their village, Kiriwiri, to collect water and see to their fields, and were abducted by militia fighters and taken to the militias base where they repeatedly raped before being released. MSF did not name the group allegedly responsible for the assault. The charity said it treated ten women who were assaulted near Kiriwiri. The women were reportedly afraid of being assaulted again if they attempted to get to a hospital, and so were not able to seek medical attention until around two weeks following the incident. Many other survivors reportedly stayed behind over fears of the stigma they would face in their community for having been raped. One midwife at a hospital Bossangoa, where the women were treated, said some women “had open wounds caused by blades”. MSF said it has attended to 56 rape survivors at the Bossangoa hospital since September 2017, compared to 13 in the previous months of the year. It has also attended to 300 survivors of sexual assault and rape at its primary hospital in the country’s capital, Bangui. The mass rape in Kiriwiri came as violence increased in Bossangoa and nearby areas. The Seleka rebels, who were largely Muslim, forced out the country’s President Francois Bozize in early 2013, sparking violence by Christian militias. Although a peacekeeping force of 12,000 is stationed in Central African Republic, rival armed groups have a strong presence in most of the countryside.