The Central African Republic is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. The majority of those trafficked are children subjected to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, ambulant vending and forced labour. Moreover, civil unrest in the country has led rebels such as the anti-balaka to conscript children into armed forces in the northwestern and northeastern regions, as well as kidnap, rape and subject to conditions of modern slavery, many Muslim women in the country.
Sophie, 22, was held by two different groups of Seleka fighters as a sexual slave in separate incidents. After the Seleka burned down her family home in Bambari around June 2014, Sophie fled into the bush with four other young women. She described how Seleka fighters caught the group and kept them captive in the forest.
They gave us work to do. Sometimes preparing food, doing the laundry. Sometimes when you were preparing food they would come and three of them would rape you. They did that three or four times a day, several men— different men…. All five girls were raped like this.
[The young women escaped a week later, but after two months in a village, another group of Seleka caught them]
Four of them took me and threw me on the ground. They started taking turns raping me.
[Sophie realized she was pregnant while in a village after fleeing]
I said to myself, If I had medicine, I would abort the pregnancy. But since I
don’t know of anything, I have to stay like this until I give birth. I didn’t go to the hospital. I didn’t get any medical care up until the birth. There was a health center in the village but there was no one there—everyone had fled.
When I see men pass by, I wonder if perhaps they are some of the men who [raped] me.
As told to researchers for Human Rights Watch