SIHA Network reports on ‘the aftermath of rape’ in Sudan

SIHA Gender Alert

Rape and gang-rape are among the most horrific atrocities being perpetrated as part of the more than one-year-old war in Sudan, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network writes in its latest report on the consequences of sexual violence in the country, such as unwanted pregnancies and suicides.

Sexual violence during an armed conflict can be considered a war crime and a crime against humanity, SIHA Network said in a new report yesterday.

Reports on sexual violence have expanded from Khartoum, West, and South Darfur, to include El Gezira, Sennar, South Kordofan, and North Darfur.

In Darfur, sexual violence “is also being used as part of a genocidal campaign against marginalised ethnic identities. The impacts of the sexual violence being systematically perpetrated in this war are not limited to women and girls alone but also affect men and boys, families, communities, and future generations of Sudanese people,” SIHA states.

“Of the 244 cases of sexual violence that have been documented and monitored, we have identified 14 cases of unwanted pregnancies. However, we believe that these numbers are just a small fraction of the actual figures. Due to dangerous travel routes, poor internet and cellular networks, and the overall instability caused by the war, obtaining information about sexual violence cases in Sudan poses significant challenges for activists and service providers.”

In June last year, the Combating Violence Against Women Unit of the Sudanese Ministry of Social Affairs stated that the rape cases documented by the unit likely represented only two per cent of the total number of cases of sexual violence.


Since the outset of the war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in mid-April last year, SIHA has been monitoring patterns of sexual violence, including cases of abduction and sexual slavery.

“The high prevalence of rape combined with increased barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has led to an increasing number of forced and unwanted pregnancies over the past year,” the women network explains.

The prevalence of unwanted pregnancies “is significantly exacerbated by the lack of access to health facilities and subsequent inability to receive the rape protocol within the designated time frame of 72 hours.

“Although some hospitals in Khartoum State are theoretically capable of providing the rape protocol to patients, the protocol is not being put to use because the hospitals are under the control of armed groups – the primary perpetrators of sexual violence in this war – and thus survivors are at risk of facing retaliation or being raped again while seeking care at these hospitals, thereby greatly hindering their ability to seek necessary medical attention.”


The network reports seven documented cases of suicide resulting from unwanted pregnancy in Khartoum, El Gezira, and Sennar, noting “the severe risks associated with unwanted pregnancy and the lack of necessary psychological and medical support [..].

“All too often, survivors of sexual violence are blamed, crimes are denied, and the survivor’s situation is neglected within Sudan’s social, legal, and political systems that lack the awareness and the capacity to address this complex human crisis.” 

Jurists told Radio Dabanga in March this year that the authorities should deal with rape cases with more flexibility. Sudan’s Penal Code Article 135 allows the abortion of a pregnancy resulting from rape if it does not exceed 90 days, but this period should be extended when needed. The required Form 8* a raped woman must obtain from the relevant authorities to be able to be treated, should also be dealt with in a more pliable way during the war.


SIHA also cites rape victims who dared to talk about their experiences.  

“Our house was raided by members of the RSF, who told us they were searching for members of the Sudanese army, but their intentions were different. They pushed me and my cousins into one room while they held my father and brother in another room, and the three of us were raped by three individuals. Despite our proximity to a hospital with the necessary protocols, we received no treatment. We managed to leave our house in Khartoum to a safe state two months after the incident, and even though we were still traumatised, at least we were out of the area controlled by the militia [the RSF]. Our journey back to our region took a month, passing through several states. After two months, I started experiencing unusual symptoms, and my mother and sister advised me to visit a healthcare centre, where I found out that I was three months pregnant. There was no option but to terminate the pregnancy.” 

A 19-year-old victim told SIHA that “I found out I was pregnant in the fourth month after being displaced twice. I’m currently in the seventh month, and I hope things go smoothly, but I don’t know what will happen in the future.” 

Another survivor said that “I discovered that I was pregnant when my menstrual cycle was delayed for two months after the rape. It was a difficult situation because we had to constantly move from Khartoum to another state. After that, I had to come to terms with the second tragedy, which was even worse than the first”. 

A victim of gang-rape in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, said she was raped by five RSF members. “After that, we were displaced, and when I reached the camp, I realised I was pregnant. Due to complications, I had to go to the hospital and have an abortion. Thankfully, I’m doing better now.” 


SIHA Network calls on “the international community involved in Sudan to ensure that both international humanitarian law and human rights laws are being followed.

“It is crucial to allow international actors and civil society to establish observatory bodies to supervise these safe travel routes and ensure that civilians, particularly women and children, can safely leave conflict zones.” 

As for protection shelters for mothers and their children, funds should also be allocated to finance the establishment of such shelters, “as well as centres for unaccompanied children and newborns. 

“Pressure must be applied to the Sudanese status-quo administration to allow emergency medical intervention without requiring police or prosecutorial reports for healthcare access,” the report concludes. 

* In Sudan, medical evidence of an assault is admitted solely via Form 8. It can be issued only by police stations or approved hospitals and clinics. Critics state that Form 8 is “glaringly inadequate”, as sufficient medical evidence is often exceedingly difficult to obtain. During the war in Darfur, it could happen that when the police were slow in issuing the required Form 8, a rape victim had to wait a full day before she could be treated.