French women file suit for Ivory Coast rapes

12th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Nov 12 (AFP) - Foreign residents in Abidjan were subjected to at least "37 serious atrocities including three or four confirmed rapes," a representative of French expatriates in Ivory Coast said Friday.

ABIDJAN, Nov 12 (AFP) - Foreign residents in Abidjan were subjected to at least "37 serious atrocities including three or four confirmed rapes," a representative of French expatriates in Ivory Coast said Friday.

"For the past five days, I have felt constantly ill. When people start attacking women, when they are raped, it's over, the barriers have been breached," said Catherine Rechenmann.

Court officials in Bobigny, near Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport to which hundreds of French and other foreign nationals have been evacuated from Ivory Coast since the sudden upsurge at the weekend in violence against westerners, said Friday that 10 women, including one in her sixties, have filed suit for rape.

A military official in Paris said Thursday that several dozen white women were raped in Ivory Coast but no foreign nationals were killed in violence that has shaken the west African state since last week.

General Henri Poncet said late Thursday: "I confirm there have been rapes.

There were atrocities, tragedies for a certain number of women. I will not comment further out of respect."

He added later the "physical attacks" against women were the only ones committed against expatriates.

French nationals evacuated Wednesday from Abidjan to Togo also talked of the rape of women by hardline backers of President Laurent Gbagbo, known as "Young Patriots."

A diplomatic source in Abidjan had said he had no knowledge of any French national being killed, although several had been injured, including by blows from machetes.

"This time people were injured and the damage is considerable," the source said, recalling that no French national was injured during violence that erupted in January 2003 after rebels, whose uprising in September 2002 sparked Ivory Coast's civil war, and Gbagbo's government signed a peace pact brokered by France.

The peace pact was rejected by the young patriots, who ran riot in Abidjan for days afterward, looting and torching anything French.

Rechenmann said between 2,500 and 3,000 French nationals of the 14,000 who lived in Ivory Coast have already left or are poised to leave the troubled state.

She has decided that she, too, will leave France's former star colony in west Africa, and said: "We have been stabbed in the back. People are fleeing and I tell others that they must leave, too."

 © AFP

Subject: French News

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