14 February 2008
Rape: ever present danger for Darfur's women
Women carry bundles of firewood at Kalma refugee camp for internally displaced people in Sudan "All around the camps there is not enough wood. But the Arab Jammala dominate the area and we daren’t go far out. If you are a man you will be beaten, if you are a woman you will be raped." Internally displaced man living in a camp, 2007.

At least 2.3 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur. Most of those driven from their homes and communities are now living in more than 65 camps dotted around Darfur.

Hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their home in 2003-4 in attacks that were accompanied not only by killing, but also by rape of women on an unprecedented scale.

Janjawid militias used rape as a weapon to humiliate and punish the communities they attacked. They often carried out assaults in public and abducting some women, taking them to militia camps to live for months in sexual slavery.

There are more women living in camps than men and the threat of rape remains rife for those who venture outside the camps. Many of the camps are surrounded by belts of deserted land with hardly a tree standing. Rapes are carried out on women who leave the camps to go to market or collect firewood. They are carried out by Janjawid militia, government soldiers, armed opposition groups and even by other displaced people.

One girl displaced during the conflict told of being raped by a group of men from the Sudanese army while collecting fire wood. When her brother took her to report this to the local police, the policeman refused to report the case and detained her brother when he questioned the procedure.

"The images of that day occupied my mind. I can’t say I have completely recovered. The shock is still terrible. I don’t trust the police and I never will trust them," said the girl to Amnesty International.

Most women raped in Darfur never report what has happened because it’s so unlikely that the perpetrator will be brought to justice that there’s little point in a woman harming her reputation and prospects of marriage.

  Police rarely investigate cases of rape reported to them, while if the alleged rapists are members of the Sudanese Armed Forces, justice appears to be impossible. In some instances, it is the person who makes the complaint who is detained.
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