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.