Silent survivors of sexual violence in conflict and the implications for HIV mitigation: experiences from Eritrea
This paper considers the impacts of sexual violence perpetrated while the Eritrean town of Senafe was occupied by the Ethiopian military in 2000, during the second Ethiopia–Eritrea war. It discusses the aftermath for the survivors, all women and girls belonging to the Saho ethnic group, and the responses of other groups in the Saho community. An attempt is made to understand the reasons for the failure of one intervention that sought to provide support to these survivors of sexual violence. The potential repercussions of community denial of the sexual violence are addressed. These include lack of access by survivors to information on HIV, testing and care; refusal to face up to the possible infection of survivors, their husbands and unborn children, and to the psychological, social and economic impacts of HIV/AIDS.