Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sexual violence against Darfuri-women out of control

J.E. Robertson

Life for women in Darfuri refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad is extremely hard. Many have no access to any public authority that will investigate violence against women, and medical facilities are scarce to non-existent. While rape is rampant, and has allegedly been used as a “weapon of war” by the Khartoum backed militia engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, women are seldom able to find safety in seeking help from local authorities.

Uprooted from their homes, often relegated to ad-hoc communities where male elders are dispersed or involved in conflict, women victimized by corrupt camp guards or Sudanese police or militia risk serious physical attack or punishment for reporting rape. The Darfur refugee crisis has exacerbated the crisis levels of violence against women, and ongoing conflict and an apparent government cover-up campaign help to conceal the crimes.

The Nobel-prize-winning human rights and medical aid group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has been investigating the proliferation of accounts of brutal treatment of women in the camps. One woman told the group “I was raped in the camp in 2007 by a man with a knife at night. I am very sad. I told this to the sheikha, but they didn’t find the man who did it. My new husband doesn’t know that this happened to me.” She also said Chadian soldiers now raid camps at night, but she was lucky to have evaded being raped, so far.

Another woman told PHR:

There is no food. I am suffering. They only give us a little bit of sorghum. How can I be happy? I think a lot about my country. I don’t think I’m sick, but I think a lot about what happened. The sadness has entered into my heart.

Sometimes, I go to look for wood. But if I see anyone on the way, I go back to the camp. They yell at me, “Leave the wood.” There’s only me on my ration card, so I don’t get enough wood.

I live here with my husband and grandchildren and daughter-in-law, the wife of my son who was killed. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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