Refugees International issued a report on Friday concluding that Sudan must overhaul its rape laws in order to protect its citizens. Rape victims currently have almost no access to medical care or justice and may even risk being prosecuted for having sex outside of marriage. The report also stated that government soldiers and related militia are often responsible for the attacks. Khartoum however continues to deny that rape has been used as a weapon of war in Darfur and says that Sudan already punishes rape harshly enough.
Since the conflict in Darfur began four years ago, more than 2 million people have been displaced and it is estimate that at least 200,000 have died. According to the report, the rape of women in Darfur has been occurring on a massive scale. The government military, security services, police and border guards, and Janjaweed militias are all granted immunity. The report also stated that the government continues to harass non-governmental organizations who work with rape victims and doctors who provide treatment.
Refugees International states that the government is more likely to punish and take action against those who report the rape, rather than those actually guilty of the crime. The report states that although the high incidence of sexual violence against women and girls has been highly documented, existing regulations make it “all but impossible” to prosecute the rapists. Women who report a rape are often prosecuted for having sex outside the marriage, punishable by 100 lashes or death by stoning.
The report includes 24 recommendations for changes, including the need for more judges and police officers, and expanding its definition of rape to include sexual assault with objects, such as rifle barrels.
Download the full report
For more information, please also see:
AllAfrica – Urgent Need to Reform Rape Laws, Says NGO – 29 June 2007
BBC – Sudan Rape Laws ‘Need Overhaul’ – 29 June 2007
Sudan Tribune – Sudan Must Reform Law to End Rape in Darfur – Aid Group – 29 June 2007
Reuters – Sudan Must Rewrite Rape Laws to Protect Victims – 28 June 2007