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Rights group: AU troops raped females in Somalia

Published:Tuesday | September 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Civilians who had left the town of Bulomarer when it was held by al-Shabab militants, return following the town's capture by African Union and Somali government soldiers, in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia.

NAIROBI (AP): Some African Union (AU) troops in Somalia sexually exploited or raped women and girls who are internal refugees, a new report by an international human-rights group alleged yesterday.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 21 women and girls since 2013 who described being sexually abused or sexually exploited by Burundian or Ugandan military personnel in two bases in Mogadishu.

Ten separate incidents of sexual abuse, including rape and sexual assault, and 14 cases of sexual exploitation were documented during the period, the rights group said. Four of the rape cases and one sexual assault involved girls under 18. The youngest victim was a 12-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a Ugandan soldier.

Several women said the soldiers refused to wear condoms and that they had caught sexually transmitted infections as a result, according to the report. Several also described being slapped and beaten by the soldiers who forced them to have sex.

Only two out of the 21 women and girls interviewed filed a complaint with Somali or other authorities, the report said.

One 15-year-old girl went to the Burundian contingent's base to get medicine for her sick mother late 2013, the report says.

A Somali interpreter told her to follow two Burundian soldiers to get medicine. They took her to a remote area and one of the soldiers raped her, Human Rights Watch said. "First he ripped off my hijab and then he attacked me," she is quoted saying. As she was leaving, the second Burundian soldier gave her US$10, the report says.