On Friday, the Together Against Rape and Sexual Violence campaign launched an initiative to pressure the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to commit to prohibiting sexual violence in armed conflict. They are urging the parties to sign the “Instrument of Commitment to Prohibit Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict” to create a record of accountability and end impunity in Sudan.

The Together Against Rape and Sexual Violence campaign, which began at the end of last year, includes numerous human rights defenders focused on combating rape and sexual violence. In its latest report, published on May 22, the campaign documented 377 cases of rape between April 15, 2023, and April 30, 2024, including 131 children and 7 men.

The 14-point instrument calls on warring parties to adhere to the absolute prohibition of sexual violence in armed conflict and to take all possible measures to prevent and respond effectively to acts of sexual violence. It stresses the need to protect persons deprived of their liberty from sexual violence and to provide victims with the necessary help and support to address the impact of such violence.

The instrument calls for victims to have access to medical, psychological, social, and legal services, in cooperation with humanitarian and development organizations. It also emphasizes the importance of rehabilitation programs that facilitate the reintegration of victims into society and provide reparations. It also emphasizes ensuring the confidentiality of victims at every stage, including reporting, investigations, disciplinary measures, and assisting.

The parties are obliged to establish or strengthen existing accountability mechanisms according to clear, transparent, and effective standards, and calls for the issuance of necessary orders and directives to military organs, commanders, and combatants to implement and enforce these commitments, including measures for information dissemination and training. “Continuous cooperation with monitoring and follow-up mechanisms will ensure tasks are carried out efficiently by the stipulated agreements.”

Together Against Rape and Sexual Violence emphasized the need to treat this commitment “as part of a broader adherence to humanitarian standards, including international humanitarian law and human rights, and to contribute to their respect in field practice and the development of humanitarian work standards for armed conflicts”.

Hanadi El Mak, a member of the campaign, called on various parties to “stop using women’s bodies as battlefields”. She explained that the goal of the campaign is to “build a tolerant and respectful society that strengthens efforts to combat sexual violence”.

Abdelaziz Sam, a campaign member, told Radio Dabanga that the campaign seeks to stop rape and sexual violence by reaching out to the conflicting parties, potential parties, and civil societies, urging them to sign and commit unilaterally to protect civilians and refrain from sexual violence.

Salima Ishag, head of the Unit for Combating Violence against Women (CVAW) and a member of the campaign, stated that the campaign aims to establish a Sudanese mechanism to stop sexual violence against women during conflicts. She called for accountability mechanisms, justice, and commitments to prevent impunity, and for the psychological, societal, and economic rehabilitation of women.

The Together Against Rape and Sexual Violence campaign had previously sent a memorandum to Sudan’s Attorney General Mubarak Osman on May 2 demanding that ‘Form 8’ and territorial jurisdiction for victims of rape and sexual violence be paused while the war continues. 

As previously reported by Dabanga, the African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies (ACJPS) documented 141 cases of rape in North, West, and South Darfur since the outbreak of the recent war. The report indicates that six displaced women in the Kalma and Tawila camps experienced unwanted pregnancies due to a lack of access to medical care, and 59 survivors in the camps did not receive any medical care. Hanadi El Hak noted that “an accurate victim count is difficult to determine due to the stigma associated with rape”.

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