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Plight of women in Sudan and Darfur highlighted on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women


Since the outbreak of the current conflict in Sudan in April, women and girls have been particularly vulnerable to violence and violation, with gender-based violence used as ‘a weapon of war’ in Sudan and Darfur. As the world marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) on Nov 25, international voices have highlighted the plight of women and girls in the war-torn country.

As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, citing a new report by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Sudan has experienced a concerning rise in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) since the onset of war between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15. The report, that reveals a pattern of harmful actions targeting Sudanese people based on gender, with women’s organisations documenting over 120 verified cases of rape as of October 2023, draws parallels between the situation in Darfur today and “the genocidal war of the mid-2000s” in Darfur.

However, respected Sudan and Darfur commentator, researcher, and analyst Eric Reeves, who is founder and co-chair of Project Responding to Sexual Violence in Darfur points out on X (formerly Twitter) that “it’s misleading to speak of ‘the mid-2000s’ as the previous period of genocidal sexual violence…”. Citing his own article from 2017, Reeves argues that “the creation of the RSF in 2013 began new cycle of sexual violence”.

‘Violence against women and girls remains one of the most prevalent and pervasive human rights violations in the world…’ – UN Women

According to UN Women, a global champion for gender equality, “violence against women and girls remains one of the most prevalent and pervasive human rights violations in the world. Globally, an estimated 736 million women — almost one in three — have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their life, and eight per cent of women and girls live in countries without legal protections against gender-based violence.”

This IDEVAW marked the launch of the UNiTE campaign, an initiative of 16 days of activism concluding on International Human Rights Day on December 10.

The 2023 campaign Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls will call on citizens to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls and call on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention, UN Women says.

‘The numerous reports of rape, gang rape, and other forms of GBV against women and girls in Khartoum, Darfur, and other areas are repulsive and must be stopped…’ – US Embassy, Khartoum

USA

Posting across its social media platforms to mark the IDEVAW, the US Embassy in Khartoum “strongly condemns pervasive conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in Sudan, which credible sources – including victims – have attributed largely to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and their allied militias.”

The US embassy says that “the numerous reports of rape, gang rape, and other forms of GBV against women and girls in Khartoum, Darfur, and other areas are repulsive and must be stopped. For those who have escaped the immediate threat of conflict in Sudan, the risk of GBV, including CRSV, in and outside of refugee and IDP camps, and other settings is high. The risk of exploitation and abuse is also high.

The statement says that the USA is “supporting humanitarian partners in Sudan and neighbouring countries to provide protection assistance when possible, including GBV prevention and response, as well as psychosocial support services for the most vulnerable and at-risk populations across the country… We will continue to stand with the Sudanese people and for the rights of women and girls, not just on IDEVAW, but every day,” the US statement concludes.





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