Sudan: Pregnancies linked to gender violence increase in Sudan

NY – The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported today that several victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in Darfur have suffered unwanted pregnancies due to inadequate access to medical care. Survivors’ harrowing testimonies shed new light on the realities of gender-based violence at the hands of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan.

The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) previously documented incidents in which fourteen women and girls in South Darfur were sexually assaulted by men dressed in RSF uniforms. A follow-up of the victims published today indicated that six of them became pregnant without receiving medical attention. Three other survivors obtained abortions.

Mona*, a 24-year-old resident of Kalma camp, recounted her ordeal to ACJPS. She was raped by armed men in RSF uniforms on December 25, 2023. In January 2024, she discovered that she was pregnant. “I couldn’t control my tears after receiving the news,” she said. Her family would not consider an abortion because of her social stigma.

Shahidah*, a 33-year-old resident of Otash camp, was raped on December 12, 2023, along with other displaced women, by armed men in RSF uniforms. She also discovered that she was pregnant in January 2024 and, after speaking with her husband, she decided to terminate the pregnancy. “The stigma from people in the community was negatively affecting me,” she testified.

A credible source told ACJPS that the actual number of rape victims seeking abortions is most likely underreported due to the associated stigma.

North Darfur

Between April 15, 2023 and March 27, 2024, at least 81 cases of sexual violence were reported in North Darfur, particularly in El Fasher, Kutum and Tawila. Displaced women and girls aged between 12 and 40 were the most affected, and only 22 of the 81 victims were able to receive medical assistance due to severe shortages of medical supplies.

Fatima*, 16, was raped by two armed men dressed in RSF uniforms while fleeing from Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

“She ended up becoming pregnant because she was unable to access medical assistance. She also faced stigma from society which ultimately led her to attempt to take her life. Although she was rescued and taken to South Hospital, she sadly died while doctors were on strike at that time. fateful day,” the report states.

The RSF and allied militias attacked the SAF base in Kutum, North Darfur, on June 5 last year. At least 29 women were attacked in the violence that followed.

In Tawila, North Darfur, at least 32 women and girls were subjected to gender-based violence in a three-day RSF attack on the town. Victims struggled to find medical help as hospitals were raided and supplies looted. The fighting disrupted the transportation of humanitarian aid, worsening the shortage of medicines.

“The attackers were many and when they raided a house in the neighborhood, the neighbors did not come to rescue the victims because they feared they would suffer the same fate,” a Tawila resident told AJCPS.

Western Darfur

The ACJPS reported that between June 26, 2023 and August 4, 2023, at least 30 cases of sexual violence were recorded in El Geneina, the capital of Western Darfur. Among the victims were girls kidnapped and subjected to “sexual slavery” by members of RSF and allied groups.

On June 28, 2023, two women were raped in a market in Libya and many other incidents occurred in other neighborhoods, often involving armed men in RSF uniforms. “I saw a lady of approximately 20 years crossing the street in the company of an old man. The two armed Arab men stopped them and, at gunpoint, the lady was raped in the presence of the old man. I witnessed the incident while I was hiding. “said a witness from El Geneina.

A victim from El Geneina told ACJPS that his family home “was attacked by three armed men. One of them was wearing an RSF uniform while the other two were dressed in civilian clothes. The attackers demanded gold and money, but I responded and I said we had neither.