Sudan civilians report rape at hands of RSF, unidentified fighters amid continuing violence

Sudan civilians report rape at hands of RSF, unidentified fighters amid continuing violence
Victims of sexual violence have reported being attacked by RSF members and unidentified armed men, according to a Sudanese government unit.
2 min read
16 May, 2023
Thousands of civilians have fled fighting in Khartoum [Getty]

Civilians fleeing conflict in Sudan’s capital Khartoum have reportedly been raped by armed men, according to a Sudanese government unit.

An official at a specialist government unit told The Guardian that four women and three girls were currently being supported, however the number of victims of sexual violence is likely higher due to underreporting.

Two of the victims said they were attacked by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary, while the others reported being assaulted by unidentified fighters.

“I believe that the cases are way more than that, but because of what has been going on, not all the victims can reach us and get the support needed,” Suliema Ishaq, director of the combating violence against women unit at Sudan’s Ministry of Social Affairs, told the London-based newspaper.

Ishaq added that her department was only able to offer minimal support due to a lack of resources and ongoing violence.

"There are no safe passages to places where there are medicines, these places are being occupied,” she said.

Sudan’s healthcare infrastructure has been severely affected by the outbreak of conflict, with the UN’s population fund (UNFPA) warning last week of “critical shortages” of rape and dignity kits.

Hospitals have also been targeted by looters.

RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, known as Hemedti, was accused of using rape as a weapon of war in Darfur's two-decades long conflict when he headed the notorious Janjaweed militia.

Live Story

More recently, Sudanese doctors said it was likely that RSF members had carried out more than 70 rapes during its crackdown on demonstrators in 2019.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hemedti had shared power after a 2021 coup that itself followed a 2019 uprising that ousted veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

But they fell out over the terms and timing of a planned transition to civilian rule and neither man has shown he is ready for concessions, with the army controlling the skies and the RSF dug deep into city districts.

Truce deals have been repeatedly broken but the United States and Saudi Arabia are currently mediating talks in Jeddah aimed at securing a lasting ceasefire.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misattributed a quote to Doctors without Borders regarding allegations of rape against the RSF in 2019. The claim was made by Sudanese doctors and the article has now been corrected. TNA regrets this error