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Darfur rape cases increased under COVID-19 lockdown: regional group

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A group of Darfur women outside army garrison in El Fasher hold a banner saying "leave because we want to have peace after 30 years of war, displacement and rape" on 18 April 2019 (ST Photo)

June 20, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Cases of rape and sexual assaults have recently increased by 50% in Darfur due to the lack of humanitarian assistance during the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Kampala-based Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) on Saturday urged Sudan’s government to develop solid justice and law enforcement infrastructures to prosecute rapists and protect women in Darfur following a recent spike in the cases of rape.

Despite the lockdown measures imposed by the Sudanese authorities to prevent the spread of the respiratory disease, displaced women in North Darfur camps continue to go out for work as street vendors or other jobs in the informal sectors as well as collecting firewood due to the lack of humanitarian assistance.

Also, these antiCOVID-19 health measures have legitimized the coercive and violent action of the security forces and government militias which are deployed as law enforcement agents around the IDPs camps in North Darfur state.

"According to data from the Hospital in El-Fashir, rape has increased by 50%, and the incidence of urinary fistula among women and girls due to gang rape and sexual violence has significantly increased," said SIHA in a statement released on Saturday.

"Despite this data, sexual violence in Darfur continues to be cloaked in silence and darkness due to the stigma and blame that can be weaponized against those who speak out," further said the regional network.

The group called on the Sudanese transitional government to not count on international support and to establish its own mechanisms to address the violence and achieve justice taking into consideration regional experiences.

"Peace comes from within; by creating clear mechanisms for imposing state policies, and by increasing and enabling the institutions of the rule of law through the courts, police, and persecutors," stressed the group.

After 17 years since the eruption of violence in Darfur, international agencies estimate 1.9 million are still leaving in miserable camps across the western Sudan region.

Despite the regime change in April 2019, talks for peace in Darfur are lagging in Juba while another group still rejects to join the ongoing efforts to end the armed conflict.

SIHA in its statement urged the government to take concrete measures aiming to enhance the security situation and protect civilians particularly women.

Among others, the group called to establish civilians state governments to replace the military state governors, implement disarmament programme, develop transitional justice mechanisms, and to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and similar regional instruments.

(ST)

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  • 21 June 16:47, by Fathi

    Disgusting immoral scum. Anyone convicted needs to be publicly humiliated on national TV then hang them in the middle of the town. These perverts can’t keep getting away with this.
    This isn’t America. Do these scumbags think they’re Bill Clinton, Epstein, or Brock Turner??

    • 21 June 16:57, by Fathi

      The "justice" system can’t continue fail victims of rape then order execution of 18 year old girls like Noura Hussein, who murked her husband (forced arranged marriage when she was 15) for getting his cousins to restrain her while he forced himself on her (obviously nonconsensual).

      • 21 June 17:00, by Fathi

        After petitions went viral, which a million people signed, the gov decided to give her a 5 year prison sentence and ordered her family to pay her rapist’s family 20k in blood money. I believe shes still in prison #FreeNouraHussein

        • 21 June 17:11, by Fathi

          The gov better increase rape testing kits, educate families so that they stop criticizing victims and stop protecting rapists. They could take notes from South Sudan and establish a GBV hotline & establish an organization that is willing to voluntarily escort females (that don’t feel safe) to their destination & trained to respond to sexual assault cases

          • 21 June 17:13, by Fathi

            I agree with everything SIHA had to say

  • 21 June 18:50, by Mayendit

    Fathi
    Please keep singing about who did it but in the end of day perhaps, you will find some people from nowhere are trying to make you a shameful in the eyes of the world.
    Keep singing brother

    • 23 June 12:32, by Fathi

      Mayendit,
      Rapists should be exposed, shamed, and punished.
      My concern isn’t so much who did it, but more about holding whoever did it accountable.
      The idea of exposing rapists seems to make you uncomfortable.
      I wonder why
      keep deflecting brother



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