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2013 | Nobel Womenísí Initiative Report: Survivors Speak Out: Sexual Violence in Sudan

The evidence from conflicts around the world demonstrates that conflict-based sexual assaults — including rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, sterilization and genital mutilation — are not merely opportunistic acts carried out by individual soldiers and civilians. They are also used strategically by state security forces and armed opposition groups as military tactics aimed at destroying people, communities and entire nations.

In Sudan, women have faced and continue to face sexual violence during armed conflicts between the government of Sudan and various opposition groups in regions such as Darfur, Eastern Sudan, and disputed areas along the new international border between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, who faces an outstanding International Criminal Court arrest warrant for his role in inflicting genocide, including orchestrating sexual violence on target populations in Darfur, blatantly denies the role of rape in Sudan’s many armed conflicts. “It is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn’t exist,” he told NBC News in March of 2007.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are particularly difficult to prosecute in Sudan. While the country’s Bill of Rights formally promotes gender equality, its legal code entrenches gross gender oppression and an environment in which violence against women can be perpetrated with complete impunity, especially by state and military personnel. Many reforms to Sudan’s legal system are urgently needed before it can effectively deal with gender-based violence.

This report looks at government, police, community and international responses to the rape crisis in Sudan. Finally it outlines (p.12) the current legal framework for addressing sexual violence in Sudan.