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

Report
July 18, 2004

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

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Under Sudanese President Nimeiri, the Zaghawas from Darfur were armed in order to support the regime of Hissein Habré in Chad, against Libya, who in response armed nomadic tribes in Darfur.(21) There were already signs of a military response in Darfur, through the proclamation of a state of emergency in the region and the creation of special courts in 2001 and the unequal treatment between nomadic and settled groups regarding their arming for self-defence purpose.(22) Traditional mechanisms of reconciliation between ethnic groups which might have defused the situation were bypassed in this repressive policy.

Gender-based violence

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women states in Article 1:

"the term 'violence against women' means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

It states in Article 2:

"Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;

(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs."

General Recommendation 19 of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women states that:

"Gender-based violence is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women's ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men."

In Article 7, it goes on to state:

"Gender-based violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions, is discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention."

In addition, women disproportionately suffer from the consequences of fleeing conflicts because they form the majority of the refugee and IDP population.(23)

The definition of discrimination includes gender-based violence. Violence against women is a form of gender-based violence. It is violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.

Acts are not necessarily identifiable as gender-based in isolation, but require an assessment of how particular acts affect women in comparison with men. There are also specific acts which are commonly gender-based.

According to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, violence that is gender-based results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women.

It includes: