Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences

July 18, 2004

Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences

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"The Janjawid held women in different huts. The children ran away but some were caught by the Janjawid: they abducted five of them; three boys aged two, four and six, and two girls, aged five and six. The Janjawid took me away, bound my hands in the back and took me along with four other girls in the wadi.

In the wadi I saw some 20 other women, their hands and feet tied, who had arrived on the same day. We received some water and rice. During the day, most of the Janjawid left the wadi to loot the neighbouring villages and at night they came back to the wadi where they raped the girls in turn. Some 50 Janjawid stayed in the camp during the day. I did not see government soldiers in the wadi."

S. from Silaya, near Kulbus, was five months pregnant when she was abducted by the Janjawid with eight other women during an attack on 24 July 2003. Some of the girls who were abducted were reportedly as young as eight years old. According to S.:

"After six days some of the girls were released. But the others, as young as eight years old(26) were kept there. Five to six men would rape us in rounds, one after the other for hours during six days, every night. My husband could not forgive me after this, he disowned me."

Another refugee woman in Konoungou camp, K., aged 23, from Ibek, mother of three children, told Amnesty International how she was abducted with two other women and one man, the husband of one of the women.

"On the first night I had to endure five men who raped me, the second night I was raped by three men. The third night I managed to escape with one of the others. I do not know what happened to the third women, the wife of I. who was with us."

I, the husband of the missing woman, who was abducted with her, is 36. His 11- month-old child was killed before his eyes. He reported being severely beaten by the Janjawid.

"They slit the throat of my only child in front of my eyes. I don't know where my wife is and what happened to her. It is only because one of the soldiers was merciful that I was not killed."

Sexual violence against girls

Girls, like women, have been raped, abducted and kept in sexual slavery. M., a Fur woman from Um Bada near Kutum reported the abduction of girls from the village by the Janjawid:

"During the attack on Kutum, many girls disappeared. Some of their names are: Hamra (15), Khadija(14), Fatima (12), Hama (10). An old woman called Khadija (80) was also abducted. Those women were taken away on camels and the Hakama saw this and cheered their men." (27)

3.2 Rape in the context of attacks

Rapes have been committed in the context of attacks on villages, and according to some testimonies collected by Amnesty International, during smaller raids, mainly at night, before attacks on villages took place. Women in Darfur are primary targets for violence and are more vulnerable in the context of armed conflict because, in Darfur, it is women who are responsible for the children and other family dependants. Women are the main care givers, which renders them more vulnerable during attacks and flight. Women are more accessible to aggressors during attacks, because they usually stay closer to the village, compared to men who tend to herd cattle, further away from the village.

In many interviews with refugees it became apparent that the differing circumstances of men and women and the gendered roles they played in society meant that they reacted to attacks in different ways.

M., a 46-year-old man from Abu Jidad (close to Kornoy) described how people reacted during attacks: