ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —A veteran Pakistani journalist who has been critical of the country’s powerful military establishment was shot near his home on Tuesday but survived, officials said.
The shooting sent a chill through Pakistan’s journalist community, which has come under withering pressure from the military and its allies in the nation’s governing party.
The journalist, Absar Alam, who has also served as the chairman of the country’s electronic media regulatory authority, was wounded when he was shot during an evening walk at a park near his residence in Islamabad on Tuesday. Officials said Mr. Alam was in stable condition.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the country’s interior minister, said he has ordered an investigation, and Fawad Chaudhry, the information minister, condemned what he called an assassination attempt.
accusing the country’s powerful intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, of pressuring him in 2018 to feature critical coverage of the previous government, led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PML-N, party, during anti-government protests.
Mr. Alam has mentioned threats against his life before, and he is viewed as being sympathetic to the PML-N party, which has been critical of the military’s hold on power.
Attacks and threats against journalists have become commonplace in Pakistan. One of the most notable attacks came in 2014, when the influential talk show host Hamid Mir was shot and wounded in Karachi, in an assault his family blamed on the country’s intelligence agencies.
On Tuesday, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a leader within the PML-N party, condemned the attack on Mr. Alam.
“Silencing the voice of dissent is a cancer that has plagued this country for many years,” she said in a Twitter post. “Absar Alam Sahab is the latest victim of this cruel & barbaric crime.”
Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, on Sunday responded to reports that the state’s police officers had assaulted journalists covering the unrest in a Minneapolis suburb, saying, “Apologies are not enough; it just cannot happen.”
Protests have erupted in Brooklyn Center, Minn., in the wake of the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed by a veteran police officer during a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers have fired tear gas or pepper spray into crowds and have made dozens of arrests.
“I think we all need to recognize the assault on media across the world and even in our country over the last few years is chilling,” Mr. Walz said in an interview with a local CBS station. “We cannot function as a democracy if they’re not there.”
On Saturday, a lawyer representing more than 20 news media organizations sent a letter to Mr. Walz and leaders of Minnesota law enforcement organizations detailing a series of alleged assaults of journalists by police officers in the past week. Journalists have been sprayed with chemical irritants, arrested, thrown to the ground and beaten by police officers while covering protests, wrote the lawyer, Leita Walker.
forced to the ground along with other journalists and photographed by the police.
A spokeswoman for The New York Times Company on Sunday confirmed that Ms. Walker’s letter represented the company’s response.
On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding the police to use physical force or chemical agents against journalists. But Ms. Walker wrote that officers were still engaging in “widespread intimidation, violence and other misconduct directed at journalists.”
Mr. Walz said in a tweet on Saturday that he had “directed our law enforcement partners to make changes that will help ensure journalists do not face barriers to doing their jobs.”
“These are volatile situations and that’s not an excuse,” he said during the television interview on Sunday. “It’s an understanding that we need to continue to get better.”
NAIROBI, Kenya — Eritrean troops continue to commit atrocities in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, despite assurances by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, that they were leaving, a senior United Nations official said Thursday.
Mr. Abiy has come under pressure over reports of massacres, looting and sexual assaults by Eritrean troops. Last month, he flew to the Eritrean capital, Asmara, and announced that his ally, the autocratic Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki, had agreed to bring his soldiers home.
But the U.N. and its humanitarian partners have seen no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place, Mark Lowcock, the top U.N. humanitarian official, told the Security Council. In fact, Mr. Lowcock said, Eritrean soldiers had begun to disguise their identities by wearing Ethiopian military uniforms, and some had killed civilians during indiscriminate attacks as recently as Monday.
The Times obtained a transcript of Mr. Lowcock’s remarks, which were made in a private briefing. They paint a grim picture of the violence in Tigray, where a clash between Mr. Abiy and regional leaders in November has degenerated into a chaotic and pitiless conflict that threatens to destabilize the entire Horn of Africa region.
“ethnic cleansing” earlier this month by the United States Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken.
Hunger is spreading with up to 150 people starving to death recently in one district south of the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, Mr. Lowcock told the Security Council.
involve sexual violence, the majority by men in uniform, he said. Girls as young as eight have been targeted.
In one instance, Mr. Lowcock said, Eritrean soldiers gang raped a woman in front of her children, days after her husband had been killed and she had lost a newborn baby.
said in a statement. “The U.N.’s most powerful body needs to end its paralysis.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.
Daunting challenges face the American-backed Afghan security forces. Over the past year, they have lost territory from repeated assaults by the Taliban and have relied on U.S. air power to push back the insurgents.
With the Afghan government’s credibility waning, militias — once the main power holders during the days of the Afghan civil war in the 1990s — have rearmed and reappeared, even challenging Afghan security forces in some areas.
“If the president authorizes it, we will still be able to provide some level of military support to the Afghan national security forces after we depart the country,” William H. McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said in an interview on Wednesday.
For the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, a key issue now is how readily counterterrorism operations can be carried out from beyond Afghanistan. The history of such operations has a decidedly mixed record. Cruise missile strikes launched from distant ships against terrorist targets in Afghanistan have had a low rate of success.
The United States maintains a string of air bases in the Persian Gulf region, as well as in Jordan, and the Pentagon operates a major regional air headquarters in Qatar. But the farther that Special Operations forces have to travel to strike a target, the more likely the operations are to fail, either by missing their mark or resulting in a catastrophic failure that could kill American service members or civilians on the ground, according to officials who have studied the record.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, meeting with allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels on Wednesday, cited the military’s ability to strike terrorist targets in far-flung hot spots “in Africa and other places” where few, if any, troops are stationed, apparently referring to drone strikes and commando raids in Somalia, Yemen and Libya in recent years.
“There’s probably not a space on the globe that the United States and its allies can’t reach,” Mr. Austin told reporters.
The assault of a 13-year-old girl in Venezuela and the arrest of her mother and a teacher who helped her end the pregnancy have forced a national debate about legalizing abortion.
MÉRIDA, Venezuela — She wore a ponytail and a red T-shirt, the words “Glitter Girl” sketched across the front.
Gripping her mother’s hand, she spoke softly, describing how she had been forced out of school by Venezuela’s economic crisis, and then was raped at least six times by a neighborhood predator who threatened to harm her family if she spoke out. At just 13, she became pregnant.
With her mother, she sought out a doctor, who told her the pregnancy endangered her life, and then a former teacher, who provided pills that induced an abortion.
But ending a pregnancy is illegal in almost all circumstances in Venezuela. And now the girl was speaking up, she said, because her teacher, Vannesa Rosales, was in jail, facing more than a decade in prison for helping her end a pregnancy — while the accused rapist remained free.
local and international press earlier this year, has become a point of outrage for women’s rights activists, who say it demonstrates the way the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis has stripped away protections for young women and girls. (The Times is not identifying the girl because she is a minor.)
The country’s decline, presided over by President Nicolás Maduro and exacerbated by U.S. sanctions, has crippled schools, shuttered community programs, sent millions of parents abroad and eviscerated the justice system, leaving many vulnerable to violent actors who flourish amid impunity.
But the girl’s assault, and Ms. Rosales’s arrest, has also become a rallying cry for activists who say it is time for Venezuela to have a serious discussion about further legalizing abortion, an issue, they argue, that is now more important than ever.
at least open to a discussion on the issue.
The country’s penal code, which dates back to the 1800s, criminalizes abortion in nearly all cases, with punishments for pregnant women lasting six months to two years and one to nearly three years for abortion providers.
An exception allows doctors to perform abortions “to save the life” of a pregnant woman.
But to obtain a legal abortion, a girl or woman must first find a doctor who will diagnose her with a specific life-threatening condition, said Dr. Jairo Fuenmayor, president of the country’s gynecologic society, and then have her case reviewed before a hospital ethics board.
The process is “cumbersome,” he said, and there are “very few” women who go through it.
The 13-year-old girl may have been eligible for a rare legal abortion, but the process is so infrequently publicized, and there so few doctors who will grant one, that neither she nor her mother knew they could seek one out.
Some women believe that simply raising the issue with a doctor will land them in the hands of the police.
legalize abortion, elevating a discussion about the issue in a region that has long had some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
“We can ride the wave of the triumph in Argentina,” said Gioconda Espina, a longtime Venezuelan women’s rights activist.
Legalization, however, is far from imminent.
Venezuela is a deeply Catholic country, and many on both sides of the political aisle reject the idea of ending a pregnancy, even amid a crisis.
“Abortion is something that people naturally or instinctively reject,” said Christine de Vollmer, a Venezuelan activist who opposes the procedure. Venezuela may be “chaotic,” she said, but, “I don’t think the idea will catch.”
Hugo Chávez, who began the country’s socialist-inspired revolution in 1999, never took a strong position on abortion, but often asked feminist activists — many of whom supported abortion rights and his cause — to put his larger political movement ahead of their own demands.
sometimes disappeared for months or years in the Venezuelan justice system, and she worried that her partner was about to do the same.
Ms. Rosales’s lawyer, Venus Faddoul, exited the courthouse. No hearing today, she said. And it would probably be weeks before a judge took up the case.
Ms. Escobar collapsed, consumed by anger and anxiety. Soon, she was shaking violently and struggling to breathe.
“We are powerless,” she cried.
internet outrage that Venezuela’s attorney general, Tarek Saab, took to Twitter to clarify that he had issued an arrest warrant for the accused rapist.
The authorities in Mérida soon released Ms. Rosales to await trial under house arrest.
Abortion rights activists last month met for hours with Mr. Rodríguez, the National Assembly president, where they proposed a change to the penal code, among other ideas.
The country’s influential association of Catholic bishops responded with a letter imploring the country to stick with the status quo.
Powerful international organizations, the association said, were trying to legalize abortion “by appealing to fake concepts of modernity, inventing ‘new human rights,’ and justifying policies that go against God’s designs.”
Ms. Rosales remains in legal limbo. Six months after her arrest, she has yet to have her first day in court. The accused person is still free.
“This goes beyond being a negligent state,” she said. “This is a state that is actively working against women.”
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a culture of victim blaming.
Mr. Khan made the comments on a live television show earlier this week when he was asked what the government was doing to curb an increase in sexual violence against women and children. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and pointed to the country’s strict laws against rape.
But, he said, women had to do their part.
“What is the concept of purdah?” he said, using a term that refers to the practice of seclusion, veiling or concealing dress for women in some South Asian communities. “It is to stop temptation. Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences.”
The uproar was swift.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it called “unacceptable behavior on the part of a public leader.”
There are few reliable statistics on rape in Pakistan, but rights activists say it is a severely underreported crime, in part because victims are often treated as criminals or blamed for the assaults. Thousands of protesters took to the streets last year after a top police official in the eastern city of Lahore said that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly to blame for the attack.
not how women dress!” she wrote in one post. In another, she said that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted because the man she knew had different opinions.
entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban in recent years.
To women’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s comments this week were only the latest example of the challenge they face in finding support for their causes in the deeply conservative society. Organizers of women’s rights marches on International Women’s Day last month have said they have been accused of “vulgarity” for seeking equal rights.
“It’s already tremendously challenging for women of all ages in public spaces in Pakistan, whether on the streets or at work or in the digital space, even in their own homes,” said Ms. Sukhera, the author in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents women from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and must be addressed.”
DOHA, Qatar — U.S. diplomats are trying to build on parts of the peace deal made with the Taliban last year, specifically the classified portions that outlined what military actions — on both sides — were supposed to be prohibited under the signed agreement, according to American, Afghan and Taliban officials.
The negotiations, which have been quietly underway for months, have morphed into the Biden administration’s last-ditch diplomatic effort to achieve a reduction in violence, which could enable the United States to still exit the country should broader peace talks fail to yield progress in the coming weeks.
If these discussions, and the separate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban falter, the United States will likely find itself with thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond May 1. That’s the deadline by which all American military forces are meant to withdraw from the country under the 2020 agreement with the Taliban and would come at a time when the insurgent group likely will have begun its spring offensive against the beleaguered Afghan security forces.
Both of these conditions would almost certainly set back any progress made in the past months toward a political settlement, despite both the Trump and the Biden administrations’ fervent attempts to end the United States’ longest-running war.
two annexes of the 2020 deal, which were deemed classified by the Trump administration, is intended to stave off an insurgent victory on the battlefield during the peace talks by limiting Taliban military operations against Afghan forces, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with the negotiations. In return, the United States would push for the release of all Taliban prisoners still imprisoned by the Afghan government and the lifting of United Nations sanctions against the Taliban — two goals outlined in the original deal.
These new negotiations, which exclude representatives from the Afghan government, are being carried out amid a contentious logjam between the Taliban and the Afghans, despite pressure from international and regional actors on both sides to commit to some form of a path forward.
first reported by Tolo News, with requests that were not fully accepted by the U.S. negotiators and included severe restrictions on U.S. air power.
Many of the delays in securing a new deal to reduce violence stem from the original February 2020 agreement.
That deal loosely called for the Taliban to stop suicide attacks and large-scale offensives in exchange for the Americans forces scaling back drone strikes and raids, among other types of military assaults. But both sides interpreted those terms differently, officials said, and both have accused one another of violating the deal. The Taliban is also supposed to cut ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, but the U.S. intelligence community has seen little movement toward that goal.
Under the current arrangement, U.S. forces can defend their Afghan allies if they are being attacked, but the Taliban said U.S. airstrikes have been carried out against their fighters who were not attacking Afghan forces.
Digital spreadsheets maintained by the Taliban and viewed by The Times detail hundreds of purported U.S. violations. They record in detail the group’s wounded and killed, along with civilian casualties and property damage. However, the Taliban often do not distinguish between offensive operations carried out by Afghan security forces from those by U.S. forces, and several of the events The Times was able to independently verify from June 2020 did not involve American troops.
The new terms for a reduction in violence have been a serious point of contention during the past several months, during meetings frequently held at the Sharq Village and Spa, a luxurious resort in Doha, Qatar.
Meetings between American officials and the Taliban in Doha — including with high-level officials like then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, in December — attempted to scale back Taliban attacks and stop the bloody assassination campaign wreaking havoc across the country, but made little headway.
With time running out, the Biden administration is hoping for more success, though these discussions continue to hit roadblocks.
Negotiations between the Afghans and the Taliban, which began in September, have practically come to a halt as the insurgent group has remained reluctant to discuss any future government or power-sharing deal while the United States remains noncommittal about whether it will withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1.
The Biden administration’s recent push for talks in Turkey could be promising, officials and experts said, but the Taliban have yet to agree to attend.
The insurgent group thinks Mr. Biden’s negotiators are manipulating the proposed agreement to reduce violence by asking for “extreme” measures, such as halting the use of roadside bombs and pausing attacks on checkpoints, according to people close to the negotiations.
Taliban negotiators say they believe the American requests equate to a cease-fire, while U.S. military officials say that if certain parameters are not clearly outlined, then the Taliban will shift their tactics to exploit any loopholes they can find — like they have done in the past.
Some of the more striking episodes happened in the past week when C.I.A.-backed militia forces were accused of killing more than a dozen civilians in a Taliban-controlled village in Khost Province in southeastern Afghanistan.
In retaliation, the Taliban authorized their fighters to attack the American military and C.I.A. base there and publicly took responsibility for the rocket attack that followed: a first for the insurgent group since it has mostly stopped, or refused to acknowledge, attacks against U.S. bases and troops, per the terms of the 2020 deal.
Some Taliban officials believe the C.I.A.-backed forces should be disbanded and their operations stopped if the insurgent group agrees to any further reduction in violence, according to people close to the negotiations, but it is unclear if the insurgent group has raised those concerns directly. Regardless, any such request is likely to fall on deaf ears as the U.S. military and intelligence community views these forces as some of the Afghans’ most effective, despite the litany of human rights abuses leveled against them.
The Khost incident highlights the difficulty of reaching an understanding when it comes to decreasing the intensity of the war, and the need for an international third-party monitoring body, such as the United Nations, in any future cease-fires or agreements to reduce violence, experts said.
It is unlikely the United States and Taliban will reach a new deal before May 1, analysts say, unless U.S. officials are willing to make serious concessions to prevent a violent offensive this spring, one that seems to already have started given the series of large attacks and assassinations by the Taliban in recent days.
Some experts have criticized the United States’ narrow focus on a short-term reduction of violence as a distraction from the larger effort of reaching a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“I am hard pressed to see what payoff there’s been for the amount of effort that has been put into trying to get limited violence reduction front-loaded in the peace process,” said Laurel E. Miller, a former top State Department official who worked on Afghanistan and Pakistan diplomacy under the previous two administrations. “It might be helpful for political optics in covering for an American withdrawal. But what’s going to make this stick afterward if there isn’t a real settlement? Nothing.”
Farooq Jan Mangal contributed reporting from Khost Province.
MANILA — When a Filipino immigrant was brutally attacked this week on a New York City sidewalk, the Philippine foreign secretary went on Twitter and advised his compatriots in the United States to fight back.
“The answer to racism has to be police/military; not understanding,” the foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin, said in another Twitter post on the attack. “Racists understand only force.”
Mr. Locsin’s aggressive response, which echoed the bombastic populism of his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte,reflected how Philippine officials often see the welfare and interests of the country’s overseas labor migrants as a domestic issue. In thePhilippines, many people view those migrants — whose remittances account for nearly a tenth of gross domestic product — as being part of their own community even if they’ve made their home somewhere else.
“Every Filipino family has an American relative,” said Renato Cruz De Castro, a professor of international studies at De La Salle University in Manila, the Philippine capital. “The assumption here is that the Filipina who was attacked in New York still has relatives here.”
attacked with a box cutter on the subway after he confronted a stranger who had kicked his tote bag.
called on American officials to ensure their safety amid rising anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.
told a local newspaper at the time.
Some of Mr. Duterte’s prominent critics have called his administration’s response to anti-Asian violence in the United States hypocritical, saying that his government has a long history of human rights abuses at home.
The United Nations has accused the Philippine government of systematic killings and arbitrary detentions in the service of a bloody campaign against drugs. The U.N. said last year that more than 8,000 people had died since Mr. Duterte began his antidrug campaign in 2016.
“It is just for a homeland government to condemn racist attacks on its overseas people,” Ninotchka Rosca, a Filipina novelist who lives in New York, said of this week’s attack. “It is also hollow when the same government makes it a policy to kill its own people in its own territory.”
Separately, Mr. Duterte has a spotty record on championing victims of abuse. He has joked about rape, made anti-Semitic remarks and admitted to sexually assaulting a housemaid when he was a teenager. Mr. Locsin, the foreign secretary, has used anti-Semitic language and defended Mr. Duterte’s decision to pardon an American marine who had killed a transgender woman.
A Rise in Anti-Asian Attacks
A torrent of hate and violence against people of Asian descent around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. Many community leaders say racist assaults are being overlooked by the authorities.
In January, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was violently slammed to the ground in San Francisco, resulting in his death at a hospital two days later. The attack, captured on video, has become a rallying cry.
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings on March 16. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino woman near Times Square on March 30. The attack sparked further outrage after security footage appeared to show bystanders failing to immediately come to the woman’s aid.
Richard Heydarian, a political scientist at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, said that Mr. Locsin’s response to the New York attack is “just the latest case of arbitrary sympathy” from his administration.
a military pact with the United States, one that Mr. Duterte has previously threatened to terminate. Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, said it was important to view Mr. Locsin’s comments against the backdrop of those geopolitics.
“Locsin probably wants to send a signal to the U.S. before President Duterte commits the Philippine government on a policy direction that would be difficult to backpedal from,” he said.
Mr. Cruz De Castro, the professor, said that Mr. Locsin’s Twitter storm was a “knee-jerk” reaction that reflected his personality more than specific policy priorities in the Philippines. But the response to the attack from people across the Philippines, he added, illustrated the country’s strong connection with its diaspora.
“It’s a reflection of our attitude of, ‘When we send people abroad, they’re still linked with us,’” he said, “ignoring the fact that they’re under private motive and have basically adopted the culture and citizenship of their host country.”
Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.
Mona Lisa lay on a hospital bed in Mekelle, the main city in war-torn northern Ethiopia, her body devastated but her defiance on display.
Named for the iconic painting, the 18-year-old Ethiopian high school graduate had survived an attempted rape that left her with seven gunshot wounds and an amputated arm. She wanted it to be known that she had resisted.
“This is ethnic cleansing,” she said. “Soldiers are targeting Tigrayan women to stop them giving birth to more Tigrayans.”
Her account is one of hundreds detailing abuses in Tigray, the mountainous region in northern Ethiopia where a grinding civil war has been accompanied by a parallel wave of atrocities including widespread sexual assault targeting women.
told the Security Council last week that more than 500 Ethiopian women have formally reported sexual violence in Tigray, although the actual toll is likely far higher, she added. In the city of Mekelle, health workers say new cases emerge every day.
The assaults have become a focus of growing international outrage about a conflict where the fighting is largely happening out of sight, in the mountains and the countryside. But evidence of atrocities against civilians — mass shootings, looting, sexual assault — is everywhere.
increasingly desperate pleas for international action on Ethiopia, led by senior United Nations and European Union officials, the pressure appears to be producing results. President Biden recently sent an envoy, Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, to Ethiopia for talks with Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, that lasted five hours.
On Tuesday, addressing Ethiopia’s Parliament, Mr. Abiy publicly acknowledged that sexual assault had become an integral part of a war he once promised would be swift and bloodless.
said earlier this month.
The war started in November after Mr. Abiy accused the T.P.L.F. of attacking a major military base in a bid to overthrow his government. The T.P.L.F. ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades until Mr. Abiy came to power in 2018, then retreated to its stronghold in Tigray where it began to openly defy the new prime minister’s authority.
In some ways, the bitter fight is driven by deeply rooted forces — longstanding land disputes, opposing visions over the future shape of Ethiopia, and a rivalry with Eritrea going back decades. But civilians, and particularly women, are bearing the brunt of the most disturbing violence.
Rocks, nails and other objects have been forced inside the bodies of women — and some men — during sexual assaults, according to health workers. Men have been forced to rape their own family members under threat of violence, Pramila Patten, the top U.N. official on sexual violence in conflict, said in January.
“Rape is being used as a weapon of war,” said Letay Tesfay of the Tigray Women’s Association, which runs a safe house for women in Mekelle. “What’s happening is unimaginable.”
called a concerted effort to destroy the region’s health care system. In his meeting with Mr. Abiy in March, Senator Coons said they discussed “directly and forcefully” the reports of widespread human rights violations including rape.
Whether Mr. Abiy delivers on his promise of bringing the perpetrators to justice, he added, “is going to be critical to any successful resolution of this conflict.”
marched into Mekelle on Nov. 28. Some said they had been raped by soldiers in the camps for displaced people on the edge of the city; others were abducted from their homes in rural areas and held for days as soldiers repeatedly raped them.
The doctor, who like several other medics spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the authorities, produced a list of 18 registered sexual violence patients at the hospital. The youngest was 14. Most said their attackers were soldiers, he said.
In one bed, a 29-year old woman who asked to be identified only by her first name, Helen, trembled as she recounted how Eritrean and Ethiopian troops tied her to a tree near her home in Agula, 15 miles north of Mekelle, and assaulted her repeatedly over a 10-day period in late November.
“I lost count,” she said. “They took photos of me, poured alcohol on me and laughed.” Some of her assailants also shot dead her 12-year-old son, she added.
Selam Assefe, a police investigator working on rape cases at the Ayder Referral Hospital, corroborated Ms. Helen’s account.
Most sexual assault cases in Tigray, however, may not be recorded anywhere. Health workers said that officials are reluctant to register such violence, fearing the military could target them for documenting the crime. Patients often remain anonymous for the same reason.
Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed, Ethiopia’s minister of women, children and youth, insisted that the federal government was taking seriously the reports of sexual violence in Tigray, and had sent a task force including social workers, police and prosecutors to investigate.
While her own mandate was limited to providing victims with psychological support, Ms. Filsan said she had pressured Ethiopia’s attorney general to deliver justice. But it is a difficult process, she insisted.
“I cannot 100 percent confirm whom this is being committed by,” Ms. Filsan said, referring to the perpetrators.
The sexual attacks are so common that even some Ethiopian soldiers have spoken out. At a public meeting in Mekelle in January, a man in military uniform made an outburst that was broadcast on state TV.
“I was angry yesterday,” he said. “Why does a woman get raped in Mekelle city?” The soldier, who was not identified, questioned why the police weren’t stopping them. “It wouldn’t be shocking if it happened during fighting,” he said. “But women were raped yesterday and today when the local police and federal police are around.”
Haben, a waitress in Mekelle, was raped with two other women at the cafe where they work in December, she said. Her body is still covered in bruises from the assault.
“They told us not to resist,” she recalled. “‘Lie down. Don’t shout.’”
But even if they had shouted, she added, “there was nobody to listen.”
An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Mekelle, Ethiopia.
LONDON — For weeks, the harrowing anonymous testimonies have poured in, one after another.
Accusations of sexual assault of girls as young as 9. Girls shamed by classmates after intimate photos were circulated without their consent. One girl was blamed by classmates after she reported being raped at a party.
On a platform called Everyone’s Invited, thousands of young women and girls in Britain have recently been sharing frank accounts of sexual violence, sexism and misogyny during their time as students — accusations of everything including criminal sexual attacks to coercive encounters to verbal harassment to unwanted touching — offering raw and unfiltered discussions of their personal trauma.
But when taken together, the accusations paint a troubling picture of widespread sexual violence by students both within the school walls and outside, particularly at parties. In addition to reports of violence, the accounts also included claims of sexism and misogyny.
“This is a real problem,” said Soma Sara, the 22-year-old Londoner who founded Everyone’s Invited. “Rape culture is real.”
killing of Sarah Everard, whose abduction from a London street in early March set off a national conversation about violence women face.
Schools, local and national officials have begun investigations. On Wednesday, the government tasked an education body with conducting an immediate review of safeguarding policies in both public and private schools.
Simon Bailey, theNational Police Chiefs’ Council leader for child protection, told the BBC on Monday, “We have a real problem here.”
A helpline will be launched on Thursday, and criminal allegations investigated, the Department of Education said. London’s Metropolitan Police encouraged victims to report crimes to the authorities.
While the accounts omit the names of both victims and perpetrators, they identify the schools the students attended, whether the alleged assaults took place on school grounds or elsewhere. Some were prestigious private schools that soon made headlines.
Dulwich College, King’s College School, Highgate School, Latymer Upper School and more — have now written open letters to school leaders by name, detailing a culture of silence and victim blaming. In one instance, a former student said she was discouraged from taking legal action in a sexual assault case. In another, girls described being groped in a school hallway.
King’s College School and Highgate School issued statements saying they have begun independent reviews of the accusations and school policies, and Latymer Upper School said it had encouraged students to come to school authorities directly. Some of the schools named did not respond directly to requests for comment, but in local news reports similarly said they were taking the matter seriously and investigating in some cases.
Accusations of sexual abuse are not the province only of elite prep schools. Dozens of schools, universities and state-run schools have been named, though testimonies received after March 23 no longer identify the institutions. The thousands of stories speak to a pervasive problem facing young women and girls, Ms. Sara said, adding she hoped the focus on certain prominent schools would not distract attention from the bigger issues.
“If we point the finger at a person, at a place, at a demographic, you’re actually making it seem like these cases are rare or just anomalies, when really, they’re not rare,” she said.
collectively to bear the burden of ensuring safety.
It was against this backdrop that Ms. Sara posed a question this month on the Everyone’s Invited Instagram account and website she started last year, as she grappled with her own experiences of sexual violence while a student.
She asked if others had experienced sexual violence during their school years or knew someone who had. Nearly every respondent said yes.
While the accounts vary, and are anonymous and unverified, the sheer numbers — more than 11,500 and counting — could not easily be ignored. When she shared the accounts, Ms. Sara withheld the names of the victims and the accused, but not the schools they attended.
recommendation to do just that after a 2016 inquiry.
“We need a better inspection regime, we need to have a proper inquiry, we need the government to actually be collecting the data — they’re not actually currently collecting this data anywhere,” Ms. Phillips said.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said in a statement that the accusations were “shocking and abhorrent” and that they must be dealt with properly.
“While the majority of schools take their safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously, I am determined to make sure the right resources and processes are in place across the education system to support any victims of abuse to come forward,” he said.
Government agencies and the police are in contact with Everyone’s Invited to provide support to those who are reporting abuse.
Sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults often go unreported worldwide, so crime data can give only a partial picture of the scale of the problem. But in Britain other statistics show that sexual violence against school-age girls and young women is endemic.
were even more likely to be sexually assaulted.
A new survey from Plan International UK, a children’s charity, showed that 58 percent of girls ages 14 to 21 in Britain have been publicly sexually harassed in their learning environments.
national conversation about violence against women, Chanel Contos, 23, started an online petition in February that included thousands of testimonies of sexual violence among students.
The petition called for an overhaul of sex education with a holistic, early and consent-based approach and is being discussed in the Australian Parliament.
“The fact that two girls on opposite sides of the world, who didn’t know each other, experienced the exact same thing,” is telling, Ms. Contos said in an interview.
Dr. Gill, the criminology professor in London, pointed out that conversations about rape culture in institutions — or environments where attitudes or behavior about gender and sexuality have the effect of normalizing and trivializing sexual violence, like assault or rape — are not new. Successive waves of the feminist movement have called attention to it, she said.
But schools have a duty to safeguard students, she said, from creating safe spaces for victims of sexual violence to come forward to educating other students about their behavior.
“How do they teach choice?” Dr. Gill said. “How do they teach respect? How do they encourage young people to build healthy relationships?”
She noted that sex education curriculum should focus on intersectionality and consent. “I think there’s an opportunity now for transformative change.”