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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- threats
- coercion
- arbitrary deprivation of liberty wherever it takes place
- it can occur in public or in private life equally
Some of the elements that may be examined to determine whether an act of violence is gender-based include:

- cause or motive: for example, distinctly expressed gender insults during violence
- circumstances or context: for example, abuse of women of a certain group within an armed conflict
- the act itself, the form a violation takes: for example, overtly sexual acts, forced nudity, mutilation of sexual parts of the body
- the consequences of a violation: pregnancy; shame and secondary victimization by the survivor's community because "honour" has been transgressed
- the availability and accessibility of remedies, and difficulties in securing a remedy, for example, difficulties for women in accessing legal remedies because of lack of legal aid, need of male family member support, need to concentrate on care of dependents and lack of appropriate healthcare

3. Violence against women in Darfur

"In May 2003, they dropped bombs from Antonovs on our cattle and on our huts. We were hiding near the village and were going back to the village at night to sleep there until June/July. Then they attacked the village. It was in the morning, I was preparing breakfast when I saw them coming. They started shooting. They came with horses and cars and they were all in uniforms. They killed my husband Musa Harun Arba, I ran and left the village. I took my three children and two children of my neighbour and we ran to Hara, the village in the valley. Then we went to Abu Liha where we stayed for two days and from there to Bamina. The Janjawid found us on the way. Antonovs bombarded us and killed three people. We were many on the run and some people were caught by Janjawid. Nine girls and two boys were taken by Janjawid. They took one of my uncles with his son, Khidder Ibrahim. We do not know what happened to these people." H., a woman aged 27 from Amnatay village in Kabkabiya district, reporting a series of attacks she was subjected to.

Violence against women is occurring in a context of systematic human rights violations against civilians in Darfur. The grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by the Janjawid and the Sudanese army against civilians have targeted men, women and children indiscriminately. Women have been summarily or indiscriminately killed, bombed, raped, tortured, abducted and forcibly displaced. Children have been summarily or indiscriminately killed, tortured, abducted and forcibly displaced; girls have, like women, been the particular target of rapes, abductions and sexual slavery.

Refugees from North Darfur have reported frequent aerial bombardments by the Antonov planes and shelling by the helicopter gunships of the Sudanese government, before, during or after ground attacks by the Janjawid and government forces. In South and West Darfur, fewer aerial bombardments were reported, although they occurred, and civilians were more largely the target of ground attacks. In Masalit areas, villagers have sometimes been "deceived" by the Janjawid, who had told village leaders that there was no risk, and then attacked them.

Men have often seemed to be the primary target for summary killings in the context of attacks (24). In some attacks on villages, people have been treated differently according to their gender: men were taken away and then executed by the Janjawid, while women were shot when trying to escape from the village. In May 2004, Amnesty International collected further testimonies about extra-judicial executions and mass killings in several locations, including Murli, Mukjar, Deleij and Kereinek. These testimonies confirmed information already received and published by the organization. Amnesty International has a list of names of more than 400 people who appeared to have been extra- judicially executed in Darfur, including in the context of reported mass executions during an attack on Mukjar in August 2003.(25)