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Women in Sudan ‘gang-raped for hours in ethnically-targeted attacks’

A 24-year-old mother who said she was raped by armed militiamen in El Geneina, West Darfur (REUTERS)
A 24-year-old mother who said she was raped by armed militiamen in El Geneina, West Darfur (REUTERS)

Eleven women have spoken about soldiers gang-raping them for up to three days.

All the alleged victims are part of the ethnic-African Masalit tribe, caught up in the power struggle war in Sudan - between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces.

The RSF and its partners have been targeting the non-Arab Masalit tribe from West Darfur since the start of the conflict in April and there have been multiple reports of sexual violence inflicted on civilians, according to activists and human rights organisations.

The 11 women who have most recently come forward all describe their attackers as uniformed men from RSF and their allies in robes and turbans commonly worn by Arab militiamen.

One 24-year-old said she was raped by four men in front of her mother on June 27, when they went back to their torched home to try and salvage their belongings.

The single mother of a toddler ended up falling pregnant and had to go to a medical clinic to terminate the pregnancy once she had fled to Chad.

A 19-year-old was also on her way to Chad, on June 16, when she and three other women were seized by men who put them in a car and drove them to a hut with mattresses on the floor, she said.

She told Reuters journalists how four armed men in RSF uniforms took turns raping her on the first day, two men raped her on the second day and one man raped her on the third before she was eventually let go on the fourth.

Her five siblings and she eventually managed to reach Chad, with both parents killed in the violence, where she is now raising all of them as the oldest.

A 15-year-old victim of sexual violence in El Geneina, West Darfur (REUTERS)
A 15-year-old victim of sexual violence in El Geneina, West Darfur (REUTERS)

They escaped with nothing - the only clothing she has left is the black robe she was wearing when she was raped.

An 18-year-old said RSF men in uniforms with others in robes and turbans blindfolded her and raped her in early June.

Three 20-year-old described similar scenes, with one who says she was also seized while trying to collect belongings before fleeing, describing being raped until she lost consciousness.

Another 25-year-old women’s rights advocate turned herself in to the RSF to try and help her 15-year-old sister who was allegedly abducted.

She said she was taken to a metal shipping container and raped by two men in RSF uniforms who took turns for three hours.

“Death is mercy to me,” she told them.

The RSF and its partners have been targeting the non-Arab Masalit tribe from West Darfur since the start of the war in April, activists and human rights organisations have long been warning.

Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court have all received reports of sexual violence in the conflict.

Since the fighting between the Sudanese army and the RSF broke out in April, at least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 6 million have been displaced, the UN estimates. ant and had to go to a medical clinic to terminate the pregnancy once she had fled to Chad.

A 19-year-old was also on her way to Chad, on June 16, when she and three other women were seized by men who put them in a car and drove them to a hut with mattresses on the floor, she said.

She told Reuters journalists how four armed men in RSF uniforms took turns raping her on the first day, two men raped her on the second day and one man raped her on the third before she was eventually let go on the fourth.

Her five siblings and she eventually managed to reach Chad, with both parents killed in the violence, where she is now raising all of them as the oldest.

They escaped with nothing - the only clothing she has left is the black robe she was wearing when she was raped.

An 18-year-old said RSF men in uniforms with others in robes and turbans blindfolded her and raped her in early June.

Three 20-year-old described similar scenes, with one who says she was also seized while trying to collect belongings before fleeing, describing being raped until she lost consciousness.

Another 25-year-old women’s rights advocate turned herself in to the RSF to try and help her 15-year-old sister who was allegedly abducted.

She said she was taken to a metal shipping container and raped by two men in RSF uniforms who took turns for three hours.

“Death is mercy to me,” she told them.

Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court have all received reports of sexual violence in the Sudan war.

Emir Massar Aseel, an Arab tribal leader in El Geneina, dismissed the rape allegations as “empty lies", saying: “If I can’t bring myself to marry a Masalit woman, why would I go and take her by force?”

Since the fighting between the Sudanese army and the RSF broke out in April, at least 10,000 people have been killed and more than 6 million have been displaced, the UN estimates.