Sudan: Joint Civil Society Statement regarding Sexual Violence in Conflict

Published: 19 Jun 2016

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict the  undersigned 24 individuals and civil society organisations call on the Sudanese government to end the  widespread sexual violence committed by its security forces and to reverse the atmosphere of impunity  that fosters it.

In Darfur, as the report of the UN Secretary General noted in April 2016, Sudanese government forces  have continued to use sexual violence during attacks on villages and displaced persons over the last 12  years. This was reflected in President Bashir’s indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in  2009, which includes charges of rape committed by Sudanese forces as a crime against humanity.1
In 2015, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping mission  documented 80 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in the limited areas the mission staff could access.2

In October 2014, during a three-day attack by government forces on the town of Tabit, Human  Rights Watch documented credible evidence that 221 women and girls were raped.3 Following this  attack, UNAMID was not allowed to access the area for weeks, and then only in the presence of  Sudanese government officials. There has been no evidence that the survivors of the attacks have  received necessary medical and psychosocial services, and there are continuing concerns for the  victims’ security. In December 2014, authorities shut down the mission’s human rights office in  Khartoum, and to date, no one has been held to account for the crimes.

In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where ongoing conflict and the government’s persistent  aerial bombardments have forced half of the population to flee their homes,4  Sudanese forces have also  repeatedly engaged in sexual violence. In February 2015, for example, the Sudanese monitoring group,  Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO), reported how government forces raped at least 8
women in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan, in one week.5

In late 2014, large numbers of  women fleeing government-controlled areas in Blue Nile told Human Rights Watch researchers how
they were raped by government soldiers.  The scale of sexual violence is likely much greater than any reports indicate. Independent monitors are unable to access most of Sudan’s conflict affected areas and survivors often do not report incidents, due that fail to ensure a safe environment for reporting sexual and gender based violence incidents and a consistent failure to prosecute these crimes. Despite recent changes to the definition of the offence of rape in Sudan’s criminal law, the law remains unclear about evidence standards that apply and women who report sexual offences remain at risk of prosecution for adultery or committing “immoral acts” if they fail to prove a rape case.

Programmes: Causes of Displacement
Regions: North and Horn of Africa, Sudan
Type: Open Letter