Introduction Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) during armed conflicts has serious ramifications with women and girls disproportionally affected. The impact of the conflict that erupted in November 2020 in Tigray on SGBV is not well documented. This study is aimed at assessing war-related SGBV in war-affected Tigray, Ethiopia.
Methods A community-based survey was conducted in 52 (out of 84) districts of Tigray, excluding its western zone and some districts bordering Eritrea due to security reasons. Using a two-stage multistage cluster sampling technique, a total of 5171 women of reproductive age (15–49 years) were randomly selected and included in the study. Analysis used weighted descriptive statistics, regression modelling and tests of associations.
Results Overall, 43.3% (2241/5171) of women experienced at least one type of gender-based violence. The incidents of sexual, physical and psychological violence, and rape among women of reproductive age were found to be 9.7% (500/5171), 28.6% (1480/5171), 40.4% (2090/5171) and 7.9% (411/5171), respectively. Of the sexual violence survivors, rape accounted for 82.2% (411/500) cases, of which 68.4% (247) reported being gang raped. Young women (aged 15–24 years) were the most affected by sexual violence, 29.2% (146/500). Commonly reported SGBV-related issues were physical trauma, 23.8% (533/2241), sexually transmitted infections, 16.5% (68/411), HIV infection, 2.7% (11/411), unwanted pregnancy, 9.5% (39/411) and depression 19.2% (431/2241). Most survivors (89.7%) did not receive any postviolence medical or psychological support.
Conclusions Systemic war-related SGBV was prevalent in Tigray, with gang-rape as the most common form of sexual violence. Immediate medical and psychological care, and long-term rehabilitation and community support for survivors are urgently needed and recommended.