United Nations has sounded alarm over increasing reports of gender-based violence in Sudan including conflict-related sexual violence against internally displaced and refugee women and girls – since the war erupted in the country more than 11 weeks ago.
Since this conflict began, the UN Human Rights Office in Sudan has received credible reports of 21 incidents of conflict-related sexual violence against at least 57 women and girls. The victims include at least 10 girls. In one case, as many as 20 women were reportedly raped in the same attack.
Additionally, the Unit for Combatting Violence against Women under Sudan’s Ministry of Social Development also continues to receive reports of conflict-related sexual violence. It has documented at least 42 alleged cases in the capital, Khartoum, and 46 in the Darfur region.
The organization’s senior official says given the significant underreporting of gender-based violence, the real number of cases is undoubtedly far higher. Many survivors find it challenging to report sexual violence due to shame, stigma and fear of reprisal.
Even before fighting broke out on 15 April, more than 3 million women and girls in Sudan were at risk of gender-based violence, including intimate-partner violence, according to UN estimates. This number has since climbed to an estimated 4.2 million people.
Reporting violations and getting support is also made difficult, if not impossible, by the lack of electricity and connectivity, as well as lack of humanitarian access due to the volatile security situation. Attacks on and occupation of health facilities also prevent survivors from seeking and accessing emergency health care, UN said.
They noted that the risk of sexual violence is especially high when women and girls are on the move seeking safer locations. There is an urgent need to ramp up assistance at reception sites for internally displaced people in Sudan’s conflict-affected areas, as well as in neighbouring countries.