At least 229 cases of enforced disappearances have been documented, particularly impacting women in the region, since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15, according to a post on social media by the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network on Friday.
The SIHA network states that of the 229 instances of enforced disappearances, “15 are confirmed to be women and girls”. “However, we assume that the number is higher because many families are not reporting such incidents due to fear and stigma,” the SIHA network states. Their methodology accounting for these cases consists of a tally made by a local initiative “dedicated to helping find people who are unaccounted for”.
According to the network, Hala Ahmed Isaak from El Haj Yousif in Khartoum North, and Insaf Saroor Abdallah from El Jereif West in Khartoum, were found dead after having gone missing amid the ongoing clashes raging throughout the capital.
Fatima Abdallah Elrab was also last seen at her student accommodation on April 15th, where she attends the University of the Holy Quran and Islamic Sciences in Omdurman. SIHA says that these enforced disappearances against the civilian population constitute “a crime against humanity”.
The women’s network state that they have collected multiple testimonials from women who were formerly abducted. They state that they were forced by the RSF through the use of violence and other various forms of intimidation to carry out chores such as cooking and washing for their captors, whilst under feeble health and safety conditions.
“SIHA notes the complete absence of any support in the form of civilian protection from the Police and other legal mechanisms for victims and survivors of enforced disappearance,” the network wrote.
The network also stresses the importance of speaking out about enforced disappearances of other minority communities, such as people with disabilities, refugees, and internally displaced persons.
SIHA has launched a campaign to stand against the enforced disappearances in Sudan and raise awareness to help locate missing women and girls via the #BringSudanMissingGirlsAndWomenBack on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
Rapes on the rise
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) has recently heard testimonies from 11 women who were raped in the El Shajara neighborhood in Khartoum, according to a statement released by the association. Radio Dabanga this week received reports about at least 16 more rapes.
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases continue to be under-reported. The Sudanese Combating Violence Against Women Unit said a week ago that the rape cases registered by the unit “represent only two percent of the actual numbers”.
Reports about enforced disappearances also continue to rise amid fears that the abducted women and girls are being subjected to SGBV and other life-threatening rights violations. At the end of May, Radio Dabanga reported a growing number of reported rape cases in greater Khartoum and Darfur, and again last week.
In the latest Sudan Situation Report issued on Tuesday, the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed grave concern over the increasing incidents of gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence, and kidnappings targeting women and girls.