Sudanese women, at forefront of anti-coup protests, 'sexually assaulted' amid regime crackdown

Sudanese women, at forefront of anti-coup protests, 'sexually assaulted' amid regime crackdown
The military allegedly raped and gang raped at least 13 women and girls in Khartoum on Sunday, as rights organisations call for an independent investigation where abusers are held to account.
2 min read
23 December, 2021
Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide gathered on Sunday to marched against the 25 October military takeover [Getty]

The UN said on Tuesday that it found reports of sexual assault and rape of anti-coup protesters by Sudan's military "deeply disturbing", and urged that they be investigated.

Forces backing coup leader General al-Burhan allegedly raped and gang-raped at least 13 people during mass demonstrations in Khartoum on Sunday, according to reports received by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and other rights groups.

The UN entity said they also received reports that the authorities sexually harassed women "trying to flee from around the presidential palace", where protesters had gathered.

"We have received deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence and harassment by security forces during demonstrations in Khartoum on Sunday... we urge a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the allegations," OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssel said in a statement on Tuesday.

The demonstrations, where hundreds of thousands of people nationwide marched against the 25 October military takeover and the 21 November deal between the military and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, resulted in two civilian deaths and 331 injuries as a result of military violence, Sudan's Central Doctors Committee (SCDC) told The New Arab.

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"We have called on national authorities to make the findings... public," Throssel said. "Perpetrators must be identified and prosecuted".

A branch of Sudan's government has also recorded incidences of rape at the hands of the security forces.

Salima Ishaq, director of Sudan's governmental Violence against Women Unit, said there had been at least eight cases of rape by Wednesday.

"[I expect] others to [report cases] in the coming days after breaking the barrier of fear... in order to obtain the required medical and psychological support," Ishaq told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor expressed "deep shock" at the rape and harassment cases in a statement on Thursday, also calling for "an independent investigation into allegations".

Sunday's protesters also suffered injuries after being hit with rubber bullets, stun grenades, tear gas canisters, batons and stones, according to SCDC.

On October 25, the Sudanese military - led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan - dissolved the country’s transitional government and placed Hamdok under house arrest.

Hamdok was released and reinstated under the deal reached in November however intends to resign soon, according to reports released on Tuesday.