Mozambique -Terrorist rape victim who bore a child fears reaction of husband
Maputo (AIM-New Ziana) -A 28-year-old Mozambican woman who suffered sexual abuse by terrorists while being held captive for almost two years in Mocímboa da Praia and has a 6-month-old child from the ordeal, says she does not know how her husband will react to her situation.
“I don’t know how I’m going to explain the child to my husband,” the young woman told a Portuguese news agency, while sitting with her son in her lap near the Pemba Sports Complex, a space that has welcomed people from Cabo Delgado to the provincial capital.
The young woman, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, experienced the same tragedy as hundreds of women who were kidnapped by terrorist groups that have been active in Cabo Delgado since 2017.
In December last year, Non-governmental Organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated that close to 600 women had disappeared in Cabo Delgado since 2018, saying many of them had been abused, enslaved and even sold to “foreign fighters” for amounts varying between €550 and €1 600.
The 28-year-old’s forced union lasted almost two years, and the trauma of living “a nightmare” in the woods of Mocímboa da Praia, her homeland, is still visible.
“There [in captivity] men show no mercy. You are everyone’s wife. I went through that. If you refuse, they beat you,” she said while shedding tears.
“They didn’t ask. All that interested them was their own sexual satisfaction,” she adds.
In addition to the trauma, the young woman, already suffering from malnutrition as a result of an “undignified” life in captivity, faces the absolute dispossession which occurred when armed groups intensified their attacks in Mocímboa da Praia in June, 2020.
“There was famine in the bush – the terrorists have no food. We ate baby food every day, as a result of which my son and I are both anemic,” the woman said, adding that her first daughter, with who the terrorists took into captivity, died as a result of the appalling conditions suffered in the woods.
Distant relatives who are preparing to welcome her in the safer district of Montepuez, also live on the brink of poverty, but at least, there the young woman will not live under the threat of gunfire.
The woman managed to flee the terrorists in March this year during one of several operations by government forces but, despite attempts, has still not managed to reunite with her husband, from whom she separated on the day of the attack in June, 2020.
“I won’t be able to explain to him what happened and how I have this child,” she said, stressing however that her affection for her 6-month-old son was “unconditional”.
Rich in natural gas, Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique has been terrorized by armed groups since 2017, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the conflict has killed 4 000 people and displaced about 784 000 persons.
Since July 2021, an offensive by government troops, with the support of Rwandan and later Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops, has recovered a number of areas from rebel control, but their flight has led to new attacks in districts through which they have passed or taken up temporary refuge.