Six women from Zamzam displaced camp were raped by government soldiers during the last week. The perpetrators were guards of the so-called ‘city gate’ south of Zamzam. Witnesses said that the last rape cases occurred four days ago, when three girls under the age of 18 were raped by those guards. Witnesses said one of the victims was a 12-year old girl whom six soldiers took turns in raping.
Witnesses said that the families of the rape victims were unable to get treatment for them at the hospital in El Fasher, preferring instead that they heal at home. They explained that the process to get approval for treatment is too difficult. According to sources in the region, getting approval for treatment requires first opening a police case and obtaining paperwork called “Form 8”. Before issuing this form, however, the police normally question the victim – and do so intensively. Families of victims fear that police would intimidate and terrorize anyone trying to open a case, because police investigators would want to prevent implicating their counterparts in the regular forces who are usually the perpetrators of such crimes.
In an interview, a former rape counselor in Darfur said the organization she used to work for saw 20 cases each week. Her organization was shut down in 2009 on orders from the government, in retaliation for the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against President Bashir. Consequently, said the source, she no longer has weekly data with which to assess the extent of ongoing crimes.
The Darfuri rape counselor’s figure of 20 cases per week is corroborated by similar figures from international organizations: Doctors Without Borders treated nearly 500 rape victims from October 2004 to early February 2005, and the International Rescue Committee, in an assessment at one camp in late 2006, found more than 200 cases within a five-week period. The Darfuri rape counselor said while she was working in rape counseling, it took only 10 minutes to assess whether a woman had been raped. Now, by contrast, the government process now can take 4 to 5 days.
Rape is never prosecuted in Darfur. Impunity for the crime has continued throughout the seven-year conflict, in which nearly three million Darfuris have fled rural areas to camps around urban centers and across the border in east Chad. The International Criminal Court is seeking to try the Sudanese president for “rape as a crime against humanity,” in relation to the alleged campaign of mass rape since April 2003. The court says that the Zaghawa, Fur and Masalit ethnic groups were targeted in a genocidal effort.
The issuance of the ICC arrest warrant in March 2009 prompted the Sudanese government to expel 13 foreign aid groups and disband three domestic ones. Some of the aid groups had been involved in the treatment of “gender-based violence.” Services in this sector were not restored as part of capacity-restoring deal brokered by the US Government after the expulsions.