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Sexual Violence in the Eritrean National Service

  • Gaim Kibreab
Abstract:

Claims of sexual violence against female conscripts by military commanders abound in the Eritrean National Service (ENS), but hitherto there has been no attempt to subject these claims to rigorous empirical scrutiny. This article is a partial attempt to fill the gap. Based on data collected through snowball sampling from 190 former conscripts in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, South Africa, Kenya, and Sweden who fled from the ENS, supplemented by data from systematically selected key informants who were interviewed in depth, it examines the extent to which female conscripts serving in the ENS were subjected to sexual violence and harassment by their commanders, including at the Sawa military training camp. The extensive data, based on the perceptions and experiences of respondents who served on average about six years, suggest that sexual abuse is rampant throughout the ENS, particularly among female conscripts who are assigned to work at the camp subsequent to the six months of military training.

Les allégations de violence sexuelle contre les femmes conscrits par les commandants militaires abondent au service national érythréen (ENS). Jusqu’ici, il n’y a eu aucune tentative de soumettre ces plaintes à un examen empirique rigoureux. Cet article est une tentative partielle pour combler ces lacunes. Selon les données recueillies par le biais d’échantillonnage de boule de neige de 190 anciens conscrits dans le Royaume Uni, la Suisse, la Norvège, l’Afrique du Sud, au Kenya et en Suède, qui avaient fui l’ENS, et complétés par des données systématiquement sélectionnées de répondants clés qui ont été interrogés de façon approfondie, cet article examine dans quelle mesure les femmes conscrits servant dans l’ENS ont été victime de harcèlement et de violences sexuelles par leurs commandants, y compris dans le camp d’entraînement militaire de Sawa. Les nombreuses données, basées sur les perceptions et les expériences des répondants qui ont servi en moyenne environ six ans, suggèrent que l’abus sexuel est répandu sur l’ensemble du ENS. L’exposition à la violence sexuelle semble être la plus grande parmi les conscrits féminins qui sont assignés au camp de Sawa à la suite des six mois de formation militaire.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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