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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 13:09 GMT
Timor women 'kept as sex slaves'
refugees in West Timor
Timorese women say they are being raped by the militias
The wife of Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao has accused the Indonesian authorities of conspiring with militiamen to permit the systematic rape of East Timorese women.

militiamen
The militias went on the rampage during the 1999 vote
Kirsty Sword-Gusmao said 33 pregnant women had recently returned from Indonesian West Timor after being abducted and forced into sexual slavery.

She also told of a young girl who was kidnapped from a church more than a year ago and is being held as a sex slave.

Mrs Sword-Gusmao said the pro-Jakarta militias continued to use East Timorese women stranded in the refugee camps in West Timor as sex slaves.


Her captor paraded her when pregnant in front of her family as a war trophy

Kirsty Sword-Gusmao
But she said it was impossible to know the scale of the problem, because humanitarian agencies had only limited access to the camps.

Memorial

Mrs Sword Gusmao was speaking in the Australian city of Sydney, where she unveiled a memorial for women raped in war.

She said Timorese women had been systematically raped by pro-Jakarta militia and Indonesian soldiers both before and after last year's vote for independence.

map
"These acts of violence were planned, organised and sustained, with the militia and soldiers conniving together to abduct women and share them like chattel," Mrs Sword-Gusmao added.

In a particularly horrifying case, she told how a teenager was kidnapped in September 1999 from a church in the East Timor town of Suai, the site of a militia massacre.

The girl, then aged 14, was raped by the militia leader who had killed her brother and taken to West Timor.

"Her captor paraded her when pregnant at the border in front of her parents, family and friends as a war trophy," Mrs Sword-Gusmao added.

Collusion

militiaman
The militias continue to terrorise the border region
She said the rape of East Timorese women by Indonesian troops and their local henchman had been a problem since Indonesia first occupied the territory 25 years ago.

But she said it had escalated dramatically after last year's independence referendum.

"It's very clear that there is a degree of collusion between the Indonesian authorities and the militias responsible for holding these women," she added.

The East Timor militias moved to West Timor after international peacekeepers were sent in, but continue to launch cross-border attacks.

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See also:

01 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia probes 'Timor abuse'
12 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
UN may quiz Timor suspect
17 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Shadowy militias of East Timor
30 Aug 00 | East Timor
Analysis: Gusmao's key role
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