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News :: DNC : Gender : Human Rights
Amnesty Says Sudan Militias Use Rape as Weapon
20 Jul 2004
by Aisha T

Amnesty Says Sudan Militias Use Rape as Weapon

(July 19, 2004)

An international human rights group has accused pro-government
militias in the Darfur region of Sudan of using rape and other forms
of sexual violence "as a weapon of war" to humiliate black African
women and girls as well as the rebels fighting the government in

In a report to be released Monday, Amnesty International said the
sexual attacks in Darfur amounted to war crimes and crimes against
humanity. But it said it did not have sufficient evidence to show
that the Janjaweed, as the government-backed militias are known, have
carried out genocide in Darfur, as some critics of Sudan's government

"The horrific nature and scale of the violence inflicted on entire
groups in Darfur appears to be a form of collective punishment of a
population whose members have taken up arms against the central
government," the Amnesty International report said.

"It may be interpreted as a warning to other groups and regions of
what could happen to the local population if certain groups decided
to rebel against Khartoum," it added.

Amnesty International called for the creation of a commission of
inquiry to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for
sexual violence against the women of Darfur.

Rape is a cultural taboo in Sudan and families often ostracize
victims. Although rape has been so widespread over the last year that
many women feel emboldened to discuss it, many others are believed by
experts to be denying that it ever occurred.

"The suffering and abuse endured by these women goes far beyond the
actual rape," Amnesty said. "Rape has a devastating and ongoing
impact on the health of women and girls, and survivors now face a
lifetime of stigma and marginalization from their own families and

Sudan ordered Saturday that committees of women judges, police
officers and legal consultants investigate rape accusations and help
victims through criminal cases, The Associated Press reported.

In many interviews, women recounted vicious rapes by members of the
Arab militias. One woman from Silaya, near the town of Kulbus in
western Sudan, was five months pregnant when she was abducted with
eight other women in July 2003.

"Five to six men would rape us in rounds, one after the other for
hours during six days, every night," the woman, who was identified
only as S., told Amnesty researchers. "My husband could not forgive
me after this; he disowned me."

Amnesty International said it had received many reports of militia
men pulling out the fingernails of women to force them to reveal the
locations of their husbands. During such interrogations, the women
were accused of being rebel sympathizers.

Women have also been subjected to racial insults because their skin
is darker than that of the Arabs.

"You blacks, you have spoiled the country," one in a group of women
recounted the militia men telling them. "We are here to burn you. We
will kill your husbands and sons, and we will sleep with you! You
will be our wives!"

This work is in the public domain
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