Last week, Human Rights Watch released a scathing report exposing mass rape by the Sudanese military. We first heard about these mass rapes late last year, but the news could not be easily corroborated. Since then, however, through telephone interviews, Human Rights Watch has been able to verify that nearly 200 rapes occurred during a three-day period – between October 30 to November 1, 2014 — in the small town of Tabit in North Darfur.
Through 130 interviews Human Rights Watch learned that women and girls were routinely raped in their homes by government soldiers sometimes in front of their husbands and children. They were not shown any mercy often having several men rape them. Soldiers who left the military told HRW that women and girls were targeted because those in high command beliebed them to be rebel supporters.
“The deliberate attack on Tabit and the mass rape of the town’s women and girls is a new low in the catalog of atrocities in Darfur,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “The Sudanese government should stop the denials and immediately give peacekeepers and international investigators access to Tabit.”
One of the reasons it was difficult for HRW to conduct face-to-face interviews is it says the Sudanese government prohibited outsiders from accessing Tabit. Additionally, the African Union/UN Hybrid (UNAMID) mission was given limited access — only a few hours — to the town. HRW recommends that UNAMID continue to pressure the Sudanese government to grant access to Tabit. HRW documented 27 firsthand accounts of rapes with credible evidence that another 194 took place.
In the report, HRW provides excerpts of interviews of rape survivors.
I was in the house in the morning. I was with my mother and brothers. Six soldiers entered. Three men raped me. They had guns. If you try to do anything they will kill you. Everyone was raped. – Human Rights Watch interview with a female victim, November 28, 2014
I was in the bathroom taking a shower. Four soldiers … found me in the bathroom. … When I wanted to put on my clothes the soldier stopped me. … Then they threw me on the ground. Then they raped me. When they finished they threw me in the room and locked me up. Then I heard my neighbors screaming and shouting. – Human Rights Watch interview with a female victim, November 26, 2014
While women and girls were raped, men and boys were rounded up and suffered beatings and looting. To date, UNAMID still has been restricted from accessing Tabit to conduct a thorough investigation into the rapes and violence.
“Sudan has done everything possible to cover up the horrific crimes committed by its soldiers in Tabit, but the survivors have fearlessly chosen to speak out,” Bekele said. “The UN Security Council and the AU should demand that Sudan stop these attacks, urgently act to protect Tabit’s residents, and conduct a credible investigation.”
Read the report on hrw.org.