KHARTOUM / EL GENEINA / EL FASHER –
More cases of cases of conflict-related sexual violence have been recorded in Sudan since mid-May when various civil society activists denounced nine documented rape cases in Khartoum. The Combating Violence Against Women Unit yesterday reported at least 24 cases of “sexual assault” in the Sudanese capital and 25 other cases in Darfur.
Of the documented sexual assaults, 18 were perpetrated by men wearing uniforms of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Three cases were committed by armed members of a street gangs. The perpetrators of three other cases have not been identified, the Combating Violence Against Women Unit of the Sudanese Ministry of Social Affairs said in a statement yesterday.
According to testimonies, the perpetrators wore RSF uniforms and rode in vehicles with RSF number plates.
“Women and girls in the suburbs of Khartoum are at risk of sexual assaults and kidnappings when they leave their homes to search for food and services,” the Unit stated.
The head of the Combating Violence Against Women Unit reported five documented cases of rape in Khartoum in mid-May. Three of the victims were refugees.
Earlier this month, Radio Dabanga received more reports about rapes in the Sudanese capital, in areas controlled by the RSF.
“These territories register the highest levels of crime and damage,” a reliable source said. “This is evident in the number of rape cases reported against the RSF forces, happening in homes and by the roadside in various parts of Khartoum.”
Rape victims remain in legal limbo, because of the fragile security situation, the source noted. “Furthermore, because of limited access to medical care, many survivors are subjected to other psychological and physical detrimental impacts of the attacks on their bodies.”
The source also said that a number of women have been abducted by RSF soldiers in Ombadda in Omdurman and parts of Khartoum North.
The claims that the rapes are done by RSF paramilitaries is backed by testimonies of the victims. The RSF are “the only visible forces that continue to be seen roaming the streets of Khartoum in large numbers and forcefully entering civilians’ homes, markets, hospitals, and other private and public spaces,” the source explained.
In the first week of May, two Ethiopian women, aged 25 and 22, who work at the university staff residences, were raped, allegedly by RSF forces. One of the victims and a relative of the other verified the incident.
On May 15, an Ethiopian tea vendor was abducted from a street in Ombadda and has since gone missing.
A day later, RSF members allegedly raped two young women, aged 20 and 18, in Khartoum North (Khartoum Bahri). One of the victims suffered from severe bleeding as a result of the rape. Medics were able to provide first aid to her.
In Kafouri in Khartoum North, a 15-year-old South Sudanese girl was raped on the street, allegedly by RSF soldiers on May 16. Activists documented the case and provided the required medical care.
On May 18, two rape cases occurred at the regional bus station in Khartoum. On the same day, two women were reportedly forced out of a bus on the Khartoum-Wad Madani highway and raped along the road in full view of the other travellers.
It was also alleged that ‘RSF elements’ raped three Eritrean women in Khartoum. Two of them were abused in the presence of their husbands, who were held at gunpoint. The exact date of the incident is unknown.
The source as well mentioned a case of forced labour in Khartoum. A mother and her three daughters were allegedly forced by RSF soldiers to do chores like cooking and washing for them for seven days before they could escape. Similar cases have been reported from other areas.
The Combating Violence Against Women Unit as well received reports of 25 cases of “sexual violence” in Darfur against women and girls. Their ages range between 14 and 56 years.
Other sources said that in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, nine women were reportedly gang-raped by RSF paramilitaries when they were trying to escape the violence in the city earlier this month.
Sources also reported that on May 11, a 50-year-old tea vendor was gang-raped in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher. She was on her way back from work in the evening when combatants, reportedly of the Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) took her to a house where she was gang-raped by seven men and later thrown into the street. Her family filed a police report, and two suspects were arrested.
Two South Sudanese refugees, one minor and a woman, were allegedly raped by ‘members of the SLM-MM’ in their home in El Fasher on May 16.