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Sudan’s women unit reports surge in sexual violence cases

The Combating Violence Against Women Unit (CVAW) of Sudan has reported an alarming increase in the number of sexual violence cases by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with the tally reaching 88 since the outbreak of the country’s ongoing war.

As violence escalated in Khartoum and the Darfur region, initial reports emerged regarding sexual assaults perpetrated by RSF elements in conflict zones. However, political groups dismissed these reports as attempts to manipulate public opinion against one of the warring parties.

In its latest update on sexual violence, the CVAW disclosed new cases of sexual assault in Khartoum and El Geneina, while the number of abuses reported in Nyala remained unchanged.

“A total of 42 cases of sexual assault were documented in Khartoum, 25 in Nyala, and 21 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in El Geneina,” stated the unit.

Most complaints in Khartoum implicated the RSF, while survivors in Nyala and El Geneina specifically attributed the attacks to the paramilitary forces.

Since the outbreak of the war in Sudan over two months ago, the RSF has faced accusations of human rights violations that, besides sexual violence, included kidnappings, looting of homes, occupation of health facilities for military purposes, and assaults against medical personnel.

After initially denying these allegations for two months, RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo “Hemetti” acknowledged on June 26 that his forces had committed violations against civilians. He further announced the establishment of field courts to prosecute the perpetrators.

The unit highlighted rising cases of enforced disappearances of women and girls and an increase in conflict-related sexual violence. It emphasized that the number of unreported cases surpasses documented incidents.

“The unit expresses deep concern regarding the growing phenomenon of ethnic targeting of women and girls,” stated the official statement, emphasizing that this ethnic character exacerbates the severity of these criminal acts.

The CVAW called on paramilitary forces to cease sexual violations and protect civilians’ right to life and human dignity.

The independent public body also urged international organizations focusing on women and children and international institutions to condemn war crimes committed by RSF elements and ensure that all those involved are held accountable.

During a briefing to the UN Human Rights Council on June 19, Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the conflict between the Sudanese army and RSF as chaotic. Türk stated that there were credible reports of 18 incidents of sexual violence against at least 53 women and girls, calling on Hemetti to halt these abhorrent acts immediately.

Last week, 41 African women’s groups called on the UN Security Council to condemn conflict-related sexual violence against women.

The international community has remained largely silent regarding human rights abuses perpetrated by paramilitary forces against civilians and women, fearing that condemnation of these abuses could potentially undermine efforts to end the conflict.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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