12 Jan

Since April 15, 2023, when the armed conflict erupted in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, violence has extended to various regions, resulting in the deaths of thousands of civilians and the displacement of millions of people. Amidst the turmoil and devastation, a less conspicuous but significant threat looms for civilians of all genders; an escalation in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). SGBV is a range of harmful actions and behaviors that target individuals based on their gender, imposing physical, sexual, psychological, and socio-economic suffering. It encompasses a wide spectrum of acts, including but not limited to sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation.

The rival militaries plunged the country into a brutal civil war over six months ago. Over nine thousand people have died, thousands wounded and more than 5.7 million have been displaced inside and outside the Sudan. At least 25 million people are now relying on humanitarian aid. Intense battles have continued in the country with concentration in the Darfur region and Khartoum including in residential areas.

Women Organisations documenting SGBV have verified 124 rapes as of October 2023 with the actual number likely extending into the thousands. Challenges in obtaining reliable data have included poor phone connections, frequent power cuts, difficulties in tracking survivors who have fled to neighboring countries, and fear of reprisals hindering survivors from speaking out. The RSF paramilitary group, occupying civilian neighborhoods in Khartoum and Omdurman, is implicated in the majority of documented rapes, often using sexual violence as a brutal strategy to force people to evacuate their homes. Over four million women and girls in Sudan are at risk of sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization. Campaign groups report instances of women being kidnapped by the RSF for ransom, often experiencing rape during captivity. Testimonies point to the RSF's involvement in rapes, including disturbing incidents of women being assaulted in front of their families. The scale of the issue is alarming, with numerous cases documented, some resulting in fatalities. In Darfur, the pattern of sexual violence echoes the genocidal war of the mid-2000s, where Arab militias known as the Janjaweed targeted sub-Saharan African groups.

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