The third and fourth weeks of the conflict in Sudan witnessed rising reports of sexual violence across the country. Reports were mainly received from strong hold areas of Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum, also in the fighting zones in Nayala and Alegeneina in Darfur. The incidents reported/documented included minor girls under 15 years old, women over 50 years old, pregnant women, and women IDPs fleeing Khartoum to neighboring cities. Women refugees from Ethiopia and South Sudan were sexually assaulted in several areas in Khartoum. The reported cases included gang rapes and violent sexual assaults. Amid the collapsed health care sector in Sudan, survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence are suffering to death. At least one confirmed case lost her life in the aftermath of the violent assault and lack of medical care in her area.
One survivor in her 30s said: “ I heard them entering our building, they pushed the door of my neighbor’s downstairs. I was praying they do not reach my apartment, but a few minutes later I heard the voices of two of my neighbors’ daughters in their twenties screaming. They raped them and their mother. I was shaking when they reached my place. I was their fourth victim only in our building.”
Due to the continuous fighting and the failure of ceasefires announcements to date, there is extreme shortage in medicines and health care personnel. Survivors of SGBV are not able to reach hospitals, even those are still working, do not have the needed medicines protocol used for rape survivors. This situation is intensified by the looting of medical supplies, and interruption of humanitarian aid flow by the Sudanese authorities and the fighting parties. Pharmacists syndicate announced that RSF has stopped trucks loads of medicines transporting emergency medical supplies to different states last week. Humanitarian aid groups reported looting and obstacles preventing aid from reaching communities and hospitals in need.
The intensified fighting restricted the process of documentation and reporting from survivors, families and first responders. Women rights groups and WHRDs are working under life threatening conditions that restrained their ability to document and verify information with the usual standards. We rely on the reporting process of the cases on first responders and relatives, and witnesses. Interviews with survivors under these circumstances are extremely challenging due to the lack of the needed psychological support for survivors. But local women groups and WHRDs are risking their lives to provide support, solidarity, and document/ report on the rising numbers of SGBV crimes.
The numbers of incidents of sexual violence reported from doctors, lawyers, and other first responders we documented in the last two weeks reached more than 50 cases across Sudan. Survivors’ stories are horrifying and indicate systemic use of sexual violence as one of the weapons in this war, in particular by the RSF. The militia is known of using sexual violence as part of their rewards for their troops, this pattern is well documented by international human rights groups. Reports of sexual assaults from the military were also received in the last few days.
The situation of survivors of SGBV in Sudan requires immediate action to provide medical care and psychological support. Many survivors are trapped in fighting areas unable to access support for days now. Medical professionals are not able to reach for those in need amid the failure of ceasefire announcements. The occupation of hospitals by RSF is hindering women’s access to Health Services. The largest hospital in Khartoum providing sexual and reproductive health has been occupied by RSF and out of service for three weeks. Women and girls in Sudan are suffering from lack of access for basic sexual and reproductive health. Midwives are heroines of this war as they courageously work under fire to save lives of women in labor across Sudan.
Out organization call for:
- We call on the fighting parties to respect their commitments to the signed agreement of ceasefire in Jeddah last week regarding the ceasefire and opening humanitarian corridors.
- We call on the OHCHR and relevant mechanisms to investigate the incidents of sexual violence amid this war.
- We call on women groups and international humanitarian organizations to take immediate action to support local efforts led by women groups and community based initiatives to combat sexual violence in this conflict. .