|file picture from Darfur|
The mass rape last year, though, stands out in the sea of horrific atrocities that come from the region. The report from HRW recounts the attack in horrifying detail, beginning with a summary of the events:
“Over the course of 36 hours beginning on October 30, 2014, Sudanese army troops carried out a series of attacks against the civilian population of the town of Tabit in North Darfur, Sudan. The attacks included the mass rape of women and girls and the arbitrary detention, beating and ill-treatment of scores of people…Most of the rape victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were unable or unwilling to be treated at Tabit’s limited medical facilities because they feared arrest and further physical abuse by government officials…”
|Darfur refugee camp|
One victim, in her twenties, said she and some friends were at home preparing perfume for a wedding when 10 soldiers entered the compound.
“[The soldiers] said that they were looking for a missing soldier…They searched the compound…[T]hen they came towards us. They grabbed me and they grabbed my friend. The other soldiers took the other girls in a different direction. They took [me and my friend outside of the compound] towards the school. They raped both of us on the street…Three of them raped me and three of them raped my friend…They raped us all night. That’s why I’m still sick. I cannot sit down for a long time like I could before.”
Another victim, in her forties, said she encountered soldiers blocking the road to town as she was returning from her farm.
“I wanted to pass. They stopped me. I refused to stop and one cocked his gun…He said that if I didn’t stop he would shoot me. I asked why. He said,“Your men killed our guy”…I was on a donkey. Then he pulled me [off the donkey]. Then three other [soldiers] came. They surrounded me. Then they beat me. They raped me. Then they went and left me.”
Yet another woman, this one in her thirties, heard screaming and fled with her children to her mother’s compound. Soldiers arrived and asked her if she was hiding a missing soldier. The soldiers beat and tied up her mother, and then assaulted her. She described to the interviewers from HRW how she tried in vain to resist them.
"I fought one and hurt one…When they saw that I wanted to fight they threatened me with their gun. Then they raped me…There were four of them…Two had civilian clothes…[They raped me] in front of my mother. She was screaming."
The report also includes heartbreaking, sickening accounts of child rape. One brave victim, in her mid teens, described what happened when soldiers came to her house.
“I was in the house with my younger siblings. We were sleeping when the soldiers came into our house…They entered the house. I took firewood and hit one of them. One of them dragged me out of the room…They raped me…Two of them held me down while the other one raped me. Many others who were there were standing around…And then they brought me back [to my room], tied me [to the bed], and left.”
In all, the HRW report contains 15 different personal accounts of rape. The Sudanese government, however, is denying that the events ever occurred. They claim that their own investigation found that, “…there had not been a single case of rape.” This is the same government, however, that has been committing genocide against the people of Darfur since 2003.
While the atrocities that occur daily in Darfur no longer make most news outlets, this particular attack has been gaining some attention abroad. We can only hope that the attention this atrocity has drawn to Darfur will help bring the region back into focus, and keep it there until the genocide ends.