New militant settlers rape farmers in East Jebel Marra
Sexual violence against women who tend farms escalated this week, as nine were raped near Tabit and Dolma in East Jebel Marra. There were under-aged among the victims.
A relative of one of the victims told Radio Dabanga on Friday that the rapes of women who had gone out to cultivate farmland, with the start of the rainy season, were carried out by militant new settlers.
A 18-year-old girl was raped on Thursday, when she left Masalit for a farm north of the village. Masalit is located 12km west of Tabit. The next day, three women were raped, including a minor of 14 years old. This incident, the relative said, happened on a farm south of Masalit.
“Rapes happen at the hands of the militiamen who have inhabited our home areas in East Jebel Marra.”
She appealed to human rights groups, lawyers, and the United Nations to intervene immediately to protect women who are exposed to sexual violence on a daily basis, owing to roaming militiamen and armed gangs.
“When a woman goes out to cultivate her land, she may be subjected to rape and humiliation. While men who go out are also humiliated and subjected to beating, or even worse, killing,” she said. “At the hands of the militiamen who have inhabited our home areas in East Jebel Marra.”
These new settlers in East Jebel Marra – according to witnesses, thousands of them – are armed militia members or migrants from neighbouring countries. Their occupation is often accompanied by violence against the remaining or returning residents.
But with the start of the rainy season, more of the displaced people have the need to return home, to work on their farms. This consequently caused a rise in the number of incidents in which militiamen killed or attacked men or sexually assaulted women going out to farm.
This week, a witness in the area reported that three militiamen raped a 17-year-old girl in Koto, near Tabit, on Sunday. Army troops of the military garrison in Tabit managed to catch one of the perpetrators. On Monday, militiamen raped three young women, including a 17-year-old, nearby Dolma.
On Wednesday, three members of the Rapid Support Forces raped a girl (16). They found her alone on a farm her family owns, 10 km south of Fanga, a relative of the girl reported to Radio Dabanga.
In the preceding week, a relative of a rape victim in Dawaa explained that the inhabitants fled the village earlier this year in fear of attacks by militias, and sought refuge in Tabit. Some decided to return last month to discover that militant settlers now occupy Dawaa.
Military campaign against rebels
In January, Tawila locality was swarming with paramilitary forces and government-backed militias. They were stationed in the East Jebel Marra region for Sudan's military campaign against the rebel groups, that started at the end of 2014.
Many villages were emptied as entire populations fled to the camps of Zamzam, Tawila locality, and Shangil Tobaya, or to Tabit village, which is south of Zamzam. In the first week of March, humanitarian aid organisations registered 32,490 people who had been displaced by this campaign and raids by the government-backed militias.
Starting June, multiple reports by people who have attempted to return home confirmed that abandoned villages have since been inhabited by new settlers, who use violence to repel the returnees.
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