‘Criminal cases filed against Sudan militia’ for abductions and sexual violence

RSF forces near Merowe in northern Sudan, April 13, two days before the war with the Sudan Armed Forces erupted (File photo: RSF)

The Sudanese public prosecutor has reportedly filed criminal cases against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for enforced disappearances and sexual assaults. On Tuesday, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict spoke with the deputy commander of the RSF on the accusations. Abducted women and girls are allegedly being held and sexually abused in Khartoum and in South and North Darfur.

The cases, investigated in early May, include over 500 missing persons and more than 20 incidents of sexual violence against women and girls recorded in El Gezira and other states since war broke out between the Sudanese army and the RSF in mid-April, Sudan Tribune reported on Thursday.

The accusations range from unlawful detentions, abductions, rapes, and occupation of homes, offices, and hospitals.

On Tuesday, Pramila Patten, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, met with Abdelrahim Dagalo, deputy commander of the RSF, and brother of RSF Commander Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo.   

During the meeting, Patten “raised serious concerns about increasing sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur, including cases implicating arms bearers affiliated with the RSF”. She further mentioned “the targeting medical infrastructure and personnel providing essential support to survivors of sexual violence, attacks on women’s human rights defenders and civil society organisations, abductions of women and girls, as well as reports of slave markets in Darfur”.

According to the press release by the office of the UN special representative, Hemedti “acknowledged the gravity of sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict” and agreed to combat these crimes.

Amnesty International accused members of the RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of committing war crimes in a new report on Thursday.

The report, which focuses primarily on Khartoum and West Darfur, details sexual violence against women and girls, targeted attacks on civilian objects such as hospitals and churches, and extensive looting.

‘Women and girls are being held in warehouses and hotels in Nyala and Khartoum for sexual exploitation’

Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers stated on July 27 that people fleeing the war in Khartoum are being subjected to “all forms of harassment” on route, including humiliating searches, detentions, and robberies. Two day later, the New-York based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported on more than 130 arbitrarily detained and missing persons during the month of May.

‘Held in hotels’

The Combating Violence Against Women Unit of the Sudanese Ministry of Social Affairs on Thursday reported that women and girls are being sexually abused in Nyala, capital of South Darfur.

It cited “survivors and witnesses” who “confirmed that women and girls are being held in warehouses and hotels in Nyala and Khartoum for sexual exploitation”.

Regarding unconfirmed reports of ‘women slave markets’, the unit stated that “while they are based on hearsay, the gravity of the overall situation demands attention and investigation”.

A comprehensive analysis of the situation remains difficult, as sources are at risk of retaliation by the RSF if their cooperation with human rights bodies is discovered, the unit added.

On June 10, the Combating Violence Against Women Unit said the number of rape cases it recorded likely “represent only two per cent of the total cases”.

This means that there have been a possible 4,400 cases of sexual violence since early May, the unit reported in a statement on July 20.


In a Gender Alert on Tuesday, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) network said it had received “alarming information that members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been kidnapping female civilians and holding them hostage in Darfur to be ransomed back to their families or possibly be later sold in markets”. 

One of SIHA’s sources reported that he saw many women and girls bound and held in vehicles in El Wadaah, southeast of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur.

“He stated that the incidents are public and said, ‘no one can deny that it is happening…everyone in Wadaah saw this, we all saw this.’ He also commented that the women and/or girls looked like they were from northern Sudan,” SIHA said.