Yesterday, Khartoum witnessed massive protest marches and vigils in various neighbourhoods to protest the sexual violence women demonstrators faced during the December 19 Marches of the Millions and the military coup d’état of October 25.
The marches were organised by the Join the Committee campaign, an alliance of Sudanese feminist and women groups. The activists as well staged a vigil in front of the office of the High Commission for Human Rights, and handed a memorandum to the Women’s Committee of the Commission.
Following mass demonstrations on Sunday, held in commemoration of the start of the revolution that overthrew the 30-year Al Bashir dictatorship in 2019, and to express their rejection of the October 25 coup, a number of young women and girls were raped near the Republican Palace in central Khartoum.
Data collected by the Unit for Combating Violence against Women and Children of the Ministry of Social Development confirmed nine cases of rape and gang rape. One of them is a 10-year-old girl, who “was raped by at least 10 men wearing uniforms of the security forces”.
The memorandum, signed by 47 Sudanese civil society groups and political parties, also cites members of neighbourhood Resistance Committees in Khartoum who as well reported that dozens of young women were subjected to harassment and various types of physical and sexual assault during their detention and later at police stations.
According to the women activists, the violence used against women during the protests on December 19 affirms are “neither random incidents nor spurs of the moment, but are rather an extension of a pattern of systematic gender-based sexual violence practiced by the authorities from the era of Al Bashir until today, with the aim of breaking the power of women, deterring them, and ensuring their absence from public life”.
The memorandum called for the formation of an independent investigation committees into the sexual assaults on Sunday.