Political Reports

Rape… Militia’s Dirty Weapon in Sudan War

Sudan Events – Report

On a day when the sound of bullets and the sound of cannons was loud, I was sitting under an umbrella in my family’s house, in one of the neighborhoods of the southern city of Omdurman. Suddenly, I heard voices outside the house that I could not distinguish. I tried to look through opening the door a little, and as soon as I saw soldiers wearing the uniform of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to the extent that I was terrified and tried to close the door gently, but unfortunately for me, one of the soldiers heard the soft sound of the door, and saw me from the top of the wall running towards one of the rooms and screaming at the top of my voice, “Help me,” but I did not find anyone to save me from their evil,” Fatima (a pseudonym) narrates heartily her rape incident.
She continues, “I tried to close the door of the room well from the inside, but the four soldiers who stormed the house opened fire on the door and entered on me. I kept screaming and resisting, and hitting with both my hands and feet, but I could not hold on for long, after I surprised one of them by hitting me with the butt of the weapon to make me fall to the ground in a miserable state.”
Despite this, the soldiers did not leave her, and they attacked her like wolves, devouring her body after they put a piece of cloth (scarf) inside her mouth so that she would not scream, and the four of them took turns raping her without mercy or humanity, leaving her drowned in her own blood.
After they left, she was transferred to a peripheral hospital. The examination revealed that there was a tissue rupture that required surgical intervention to repair what these soldiers had done.
After the incident, Fatima left with her mother and younger brother to the city of Wad Medani in the state of Gezira to continue the treatment protocol in order to overcome the effects of the trauma that these rapists had inflicted upon her. However, her condition worsened again after the RSF entered Wad Medani, so her family decided to transfer her to the Egyptian capital, Cairo. It presented her to specialists there.

Fatima represents one of dozens of women who have been raped in the capital, Khartoum, since the outbreak of war between the Sudanese army and the RSF on April 15, 2023, due to the spread of chaos and the lack of control over unruly soldiers who use rape as a weapon of war.
Bahri victim
Israa (a pseudonym) lived in bad psychological conditions after she was raped by individuals wearing RSF uniforms in front of the eyes of her father, who suffers from kidney failure, her mother, and her sister, who is five years younger than her.
Israa narrates to (Al-Tagheer) her and her family’s suffering, which turned into a nightmare after most of the neighborhood’s residents left their homes, following the intensification of battles in the city of Bahri, where her father’s health and financial conditions prevented them from leaving, so her mother decided to work selling food in one of the nearby markets to provide them with food and treatment expenses. But one afternoon, soldiers stormed their house and threatened her mother. One of them put a gun on her father, who could not even sit on the bed, and asked him to bring money and gold. Her mother intervened and told them that her husband was sick and they had no money, but they did not believe her and insisted on bringing the money. They searched all parts of the house and did not find anything. Suddenly, one of the soldiers surprised Israa and forcefully grabbed her and tore off her clothes in front of her parents and seven-year-old sister. He raped her along with two others, to the shock of her family, who were unable to do anything.
After they left the house, she was treated by her friend in a hospital and placed in a treatment protocol to deal with the effects of the shock. Her psychological state is still bad and she always thinks about suicide, but her thoughts about her father’s health condition and her mother, who became ill after the assault on her, make her retract the matter.
Serious physical effects
A doctor who has handled a number of rape cases – who preferred to remain anonymous – says that the most prominent physical effects of sexual violence are tissue damage, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and infertility, and it may even lead to death. She adds: “There are also long-term effects that can include urinary incontinence, urinary system problems, and continuous bleeding, which affects all aspects of life for women victims, including the ability to work and provide care for their families.”
She emphasized that pregnancy resulting from rape leads to a very dangerous birth, and raped women may face the risk of a possible unsafe abortion.
Regarding the fate of women who become pregnant after rape, the doctor says that women face a fateful decision about whether they will raise the child, or choose abortion.
She adds that when a mother chooses to raise a child who is the result of rape, the traumatic memory of the incident and the child’s blood relationship to the rapist will create psychological crises for her, and she will also be exposed to ostracism by society.
Dismantling society
Rape weapons are used during wars as a means to intimidate, humiliate and weaken components of society. In this regard, counseling and psychotherapy specialist Dr. Marwa Mohammad Ibrahim said, “The dismantling of society does not happen with a gun, but with a rape machine, because the person who is exposed to this loses his identity, his self-confidence and self-esteem are weakened, and he does not have the resourcefulness to defend himself or others.”
She adds to (Al-Tagheer) that “it is still a systematic tactic against the targeted person during the conflict, and that rape is not done for pleasure, but rather it is part of war, and a systematic act that is taught to soldiers before entering the battlefield as one of the tools that are used, despite the fact that this Forbidden in conflicts.”
Rape is considered one of the violations against women, and it has been used as a weapon in all of Sudan’s wars.
Social researcher, Thuraya Ibrahim, believes that “the fear of harming a woman makes the rapist assault her because he believes that he is insulting the dignity of the family and exerting psychological, social and cultural pressures. The stigma that is imposed on the raped girl makes her not report what happened to her in order to exercise her legal right, despite our continuous encouragement to the rape victims due to the need to report these incidents and restore their rights.” The researcher called for the necessity of developing plans to protect women during conflicts and wars.
For her part, the director of the Unit for Combating Violence against Women and Children, a government unit, Salima Ishaq, confirms the presence of large cases of rape of women. More than 138 cases have been documented, including 14 girls. 68 cases were recorded in Khartoum, 47 in Nyala, and 21 in El Geneina and 2 in Wad Medani, while cases of sexual exploitation reached 29 cases.
Salima explained that the documented cases do not represent more than 2% of reality, and that there are no accurate statistics on the number of forcibly disappeared women, especially in the conflict areas of Khartoum, Nyala, Medani, and the Darfur region, in light of the presence of RSF sites there.
A medical source – who requested to remain anonymous – told (Al-Tagheer) that the majority of rape cases are in areas controlled by the RSF. He stated that most of the cases observed are in the city of Bahri, and some of them lead to complications, bleeding and pregnancy, and most of the cases are girls over 18 years old.
He explained that rape cases are very large and the observed numbers are small compared to what occurred in reality.
New old weapon
Rape weapons were previously used against women in the Darfur War, which began in 2003. This was confirmed by the spokesman for the Coordination of Displaced Persons and Refugees, Adam Rejal, as the exposure of women in Sudan to sexual violence, especially rape, is not new, and the Darfur War witnessed similar crimes against women monitored by local and international organizations.
Men told Al-Tagheer that there are many cases of rape that have reached displacement and asylum camps, and they are being counted by specialists to be presented to local and international public opinion, so that the perpetrators can be punished.

International concern
Many local and international human rights organizations have documented the violations that occurred against women in the current war between the Sudanese army and the RSF.
Relief organizations and officials said that the conflict between the two sides has caused an increase in the rape and kidnapping of women and girls, some as young as 12 years old.
Save the Children Organization said in a statement on Friday, July 7, 2023, that armed fighters are sexually assaulting and raping teenage girls in “alarming numbers,” while the United Nations reported a “noticeable increase” in gender-based violence.
The United Nations estimates that 4.2 million people in Sudan are at risk of gender-based violence, while the number was three million before the conflict began in mid-April. She said that the risk increases sharply as women and girls move in search of safe places.
It is noteworthy that more than 2.9 million people were displaced from their homes due to the war, and about 700,000 of them fled to neighboring countries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that some women arrive pregnant as a result of rape.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights attributed 70% of confirmed incidents of sexual violence to militia fighters. While the report of the “Together Against Rape and Sexual Violence Campaign,” a campaign carried out by a group of civil society organizations, which was conducted from April 15 to December 31, 2023, stated that 189 cases were documented spread across 6 states, and the number of victims was 185 females and 4 males, The ages of the victims range from 11 to 45 years, and the percentage of them is children, 46%, and the percentage of young men and women (18-34) is 42%. The campaign supervisors said that the sample only includes incidents in 6 states.

Treating survivors
A number of organizations are active in working to mitigate the effects of sexual assault by opening treatment centers in a number of states in Sudan that have not yet been affected by conflict.
An employee working for an international organization, who is not authorized to speak, says that international organizations have contracted with some hospitals in states not affected by the war to treat survivors of sexual violence at their expense and provide psychological counseling.
The employee explained to Al-Tagheer that the largest centers were in the city of Wad Medani in the state of Gezira, and there were a number of girls who had been raped, but after the RSF entered the city, the victims were evacuated to other states to continue treatment.
The “No to Oppression of Women Initiative” works in the field of providing psychological and legal counseling to victims and survivors of physical violence to overcome the effects of post-traumatic stress.
Its president, Amira Osman, says, “We women pay the price of wars, and this is our basic suffering. Therefore, we are the stakeholders to stop them and are more willing to solve them radically because its consequences do not stop with stopping the war only, but we pay the price for it with other years of our lives while we live in misery and deprivation.”
She added to (Al-Taghyeer), “We in the initiative raised the slogan (Our bodies are not the ground for your battles), because the use of women’s bodies as a weapon in battles is known in wars, and the minds that historically manage wars in human life are male minds, and they try to give themselves a false victory, when they are raped.” “It violates women’s right to a decent life.” She emphasized that in the initiative they stand against these practices and against the persecution to which displaced women are exposed to in informal homes as a result of wars.
Psychological impact

As the war in Sudan continues and expands, the possibility of more cases of sexual violence and rape increases, while Fatima and her fellow victims/survivors face a confusing reality and an unknown future as a result of the consequences of the rape incidents to which they were exposed. They become prisoners of physical pain and psychological impact, in addition to facing stigma in their lives. An unforgiving society still views rape victims with suspicion, especially if one of them gives birth to a child as a result of the crime, which makes most of them think about suicide or running away to avoid society’s view of them and their families.

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