By Gebremeskel Gebremariam

This is a horrible story about a 19-yrs-old girl who I talked with on the phone. I couldn’t get the courage to write about her because I was overwhelmingly devastated by her story. But, I have to tell her story to the world no matter what.

Christine is originally from #Maikadra town. She and her family had to flee their hometown when it was changed to hell on November 11, 2020. They took refuge at Humera town. After some days, the Ethiopian Army & Amhara Forces entered Humera.

The Amhara Forces were targeting every ethnic #Tigrayan and hence they abducted her dad. Life got tough for Christine, her mom, and her siblings in Humera town. But, she decided to take care of her family by selling coffee & tea across the main streets in Humera.

She knew no one would help her in case something went wrong in the streets. Regardless, she didn’t change her mind. As she thought, she started earning fair amount of money to buy food for her entire family. Day in day out, she was focused on saving the lives of her family.

On January 29, as she was on her usual business, it’s getting dark & decided to spend the night in a nearby household for it would be too dangerous for her to walk all the way to where her family were staying. The woman was very generous and hence allowed Christine to spend the night at her house. Some hours later, the Amhara Forces started knocking at the door. They started beating the door with too much force and vowed to storm it with bullets if the owner fails to open it for them.

They started firing bullets to the sky to terrorize them so that they would open it quickly. The woman opened the door and the Amhara Forces asked the woman and Christine to show their ID cards. Luckily, the woman had an Addis Ababan ID whereas Christine & a #Tigrayan ID.

When they knew that she was a #Tigrayan, they started punching, beating, slapping… her to the point of making her unconscious. They dragged her away from the house & took her to an Orthodox Church with the name Saint Gabriel in Humera town.

There was a new building under construction at the church. The Amhara Special Forces commanded Christine to choose between either undressing herself or waiting for a bullet to be fired through her vagina. She begged them with the name of God.

However, they kept beating her and vowing to fire bullets through her vagina if she would not remove her dress immediately. They took turns to gang-rape her throughout the night. In the morning, they vowed to throw her off the building.

She begged them to leave her alive. Then, they dumped her there and left her alone. As an elderly woman was passing by, she knew a lady was lying there. She approached her and knew that she was alive. She was kind enough to give her a hand.

Christine arrived at the place where her family were taking refuge. Her mom asked her repeatedly as to what happened to her firstborn child. But, Christine decided to keep it secret so that her mom would not be hurt. She told her mom that she’s sick & it might be malaria.

After a month, Christine knew that her period was not coming. She was very afraid that she might be pregnant. She took a pregnancy test at a clinic in the town. Painfully, she found out that she was pregnant.

Once again, she didn’t want to tell her mom about the pregnancy. She visited Kahsay Abera Hospital – a public hospital in Humera – to get rid of the pregnancy. But, she was told that they could not abort her pregnancy.

She suspected they denied her of abortion b/se of her #Tigrayan ethnicity. She went back home and decided to accomplish a very risky task, to get rid of the pregnancy at any cost, “I decided to abort it myself even if the process may expose me to death.”

At her home, without anyone watching her, she drank too much detergent, hoping it would abort the pregnancy. As she thought, it worked out well but very much devastated her health condition – was bleeding for many days non-stop.

Long story short, she managed to flee Humera to one of the refugee camps in Sudan. However, she kept her ordeal secret even at the camp to escape from social stigma. She even couldn’t share her story to health professionals. Consequently, the bleeding continued and her health condition deteriorated as time went by. One courageous health professional confronted Christine to tell her story when she suspected her of being raped. Christine had no choice but to reveal her story hoping she would get medical help.

Shocked by the story, the health professional wrote her a referral letter to Gedarif Hospital, a public hospital in Gedarif [Sudan]. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get the necessary medical help at the hospital and is currently languishing to death at Gedarif.

When I called her yesterday, she was very desperately in need of medical & psychological help. I can’t express it enough how intensely she thanked me ONLY because I talked to her on the phone. She told me that she considered herself trash & below any human being.

I was heart-wrenched when I Iearnt how much she was devastated, psychologically traumatized, & humiliated due to the barbaric forces of evil.

I said, “Christine, look, the situation you are in does not define you. It rather defines the savage & rapist Amhara Forces who betrayed their own moms to perpetrate such a barbarity on a girl that looks exactly like their own moms & sisters.”

She was has been extremely traumatized and hence needs continuous psychosocial support which I feel is almost inexistent at the refugee camps in Sudan.

Among all things, one thing she told me will never be lost from my memory. She said, “The Amhara Forces told me that I have to say ok to the rape and get pregnant to an Amhara baby, ‘your womb must give brith to an Amhara baby’; otherwise, they vowed to kill me.”

I have to confess that I am the type of person I usually resist not to weep. However, yesterday was one of the few days I wept over the past 11+ months.

Before hanging up our conversation, I asked her what she wanted people to do fo her. She replied, “I beg people for ONLY one thing; to help me get medical treatment and recover from this unbearable & non-stop pain. This is my only plea.”

I promised her that we’ll never leave her alone & we will help her get the type of medical treatment she deserves to help her get back to normal life. We plead the international community to act to end the Tigray war and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Note that Christine isn’t her real name. I have changed her real name for the sake of her safety & privacy. Moreover, I don’t want to specify which refugee camp she is exactly in. If anyone has the desire to contact her for emergent help or an interview, please text me at Gebremeskel Gebremariam.

The original story was posted at Gebremeskel Gebremariam‘s twitter wall.

By Lilay

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