The international community has made its voice heard against reports of rape, sexual violence and harassment by security forces during the December 19 Marches of the Millions, in Khartoum on Sunday, “to condemn the use of sexual and gender based violence to drive women away from demonstrations and silence their voices”.
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, urges “a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation” after “deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence and harassment by security forces during demonstrations in Khartoum on Sunday, 19 December 2021”.
In a press statement from Geneva on Tuesday, the UNHCHR said that the Commission’s Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan has received allegations that 13 women and girls were victims of rape or gang rape. “We have also received allegations of sexual harassment by security forces against women who were trying to flee the area around the Presidential Palace on Sunday evening.”
According to the figures quoted by Office of the High Commissioner, two protesters died after being shot, and around 300 others were injured, some due to the use of live ammunition, some hit by tear gas canisters or beaten by security forces, and others who suffered breathing difficulties from tear gas inhalation.
This was echoed in a statement on social media by Samantha Power, administrator of USAID, said: “13 Sudanese women tell they were raped by security forces this weekend amid protests in which two more people were killed. Sudan’s political and military leaders must act to address this violence and protect civilians as protests continue.”
In a separate statement, Norwegian Ambassador to Sudan, Therese Løken Gheziel, points out: “Women’s participation in Sudan protests make the streets more peaceful. Their voices are needed for transition to move forward. Rape and sexual assault are weapons to silence the people. Unacceptable. Will deepen mistrust in security forces. Perpetrators must be held accountable.”
In a joint statement, Canada, the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA “strongly condemn the use of sexual and gender based violence to drive women away from demonstrations and silence their voices”.
In the statement, the countries urge the Sudanese authorities “to carry out a full and independent investigation into these allegations of violence and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable regardless of their affiliation.
The international joint statement concludes that Sudanese citizens must be afforded the right of freedom of political expression and assembly free of violence.