Home / Life / At Least 7,000 Eritreans in Israel Survived Torture, Rape in Sinai

At Least 7,000 Eritreans in Israel Survived Torture, Rape in Sinai

Most women and girls were gang-raped daily by Bedouin traffickers; many men raped as well.

Dat, a few stumps where his fingers had been viciously cut off. Credit: David Bachar

When Dat (not his real name), a 29-year-old victim of human trafficking, tries to talk about the torture he suffered in the Sinai desert, his thin body cringes, his eyes cloud over and he says: “I still can’t talk about what happened to me while I was in captivity. Not even today.”

After a short silence he shows the marks of his torture, burned into his body. He spreads out his hands in embarrassment, showing a few stumps where his fingers had been viciously cut off, rolls up his shirt to show his back, filled with signs of serious burns, then turning his neck to expose some deep scars which still haven’t healed.

Dat was born in Eritrea to a poverty-stricken family. He served in his country’s army for five years before deserting and fleeing. “I escaped the tyrannical regime there, not the country itself. You can’t really leave your homeland,” he says. “But my country is under a dictatorship – military service is worse than slavery. We are drafted without knowing when we’ll be released. That’s why I had no choice.” His wife and daughter had escaped earlier to Sudan and Dat had planned to join them. Israel wasn’t part of his plan, but the Bedouin human traffickers who abducted him in 2011 changed things. They led him to torture camps in the Sinai desert, where he remained for seven months.

“They asked me to pay $7,000 and I couldn’t raise that kind of money for a long time” he says. “Five years have passed since then and I still have nightmares and sleeplessness, pain, difficulties in concentrating, confusion, stress and anxiety. What happened to my hands interferes with my ability to work” he adds. “I work a few hours a day and barely provide for myself. My wife and daughter are in Sudan without a provider. They’re also in very bad shape, and I feel horrible at not being able to help them.”

read more at Haaretz.com

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