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European Parliament Conference: Women’s Inferno in Ethiopia

22 March 2017 – 9:30 – 12:00

European Parliament, Brussels


The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) and MEP Liliana Rodrigues (S&D), will be holding a conference entitled ‘Women’s Inferno in Ethiopia’.

The primary aim of the conference is to raise awareness about the deteriorating condition of human rights in Ethiopia. While the eventual objective is to galvanise the international community and enact change, it is essential to first focus on the realities at hand. This focus comprises the human rights abuses faced by marginalised ethnic groups, and more specifically, the rife sexual and gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women in these communities. To this end, the conference will centre on the plight of women from Ogaden and Oromo, but also from Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, and Sidama.

Despite being a party to most United Nations human rights treaties and having specific provisions for minority rights in its Constitution, human rights in Ethiopia are still jeopardised. Fearing further destabilisation in the Horn of Africa, international donors like the European Union (EU) continue funnelling humanitarian and development aid into Ethiopia by virtue of its perceived stability within a region marred by volatility. Considering the widespread intimidation tactics used during national elections, which resulted in a complete sweep of all 547 Parliamentary seats by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), it is evident that democratic processes in the country are hindered by power players.

The populations of Ogaden, Oromiya, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, and Sidama, among others, suffer grave injustices at the hands of Ethiopian authorities and their allies. The oppression and restriction of civil liberties in these regions comes in many forms: land-grabbing, military crackdowns, evictions, extrajudicial killings, and rape, to name only a few. Sexual and gender-based violence is devastating Ethiopia’s most vulnerable communities, and chances for redress are slim to none. Often used as retaliation for political dissent and to instil fear within these communities, the scale and pattern of this violence is akin to that of a “weapon of war”. Sexual violence has become another insidious method of suppression for marginalised groups in these regions.

Two years have passed since UNPO’s conference entitled ‘Minority Women’s Rights: an Ethiopian Inferno?’, and now the organisation seeks to bring these issues back to the table with a particular spotlight on sexual violence. Bringing together a variety of internal and peripheral perspectives, this conference will converge around broad issues, such as the state of human rights in Ethiopia, and the more detailed concerns regarding institutionalised rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

Registrations are now closed.

The conference programme is available below:

For further information, please contact Julie Duval (



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