Sudanese Women Find Strength in Solidarity Amid Wartime Sexual Violence

Sudanese refugees in Chad. (© UNHCR/Insa Wawa Diatta)

In Sudan’s vicious civil war, rape has become a weapon wielded against women by both the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group. Survivors often face shame and stigma in a society that blames women. However, some courageous individuals are refusing to remain silent. By sharing their stories and supporting each other, they are working to change attitudes and help fellow survivors heal.

Rania, a Sudanese woman gang-raped by seven RSF fighters, initially felt like a disgrace. But after escaping to a transit camp in Adré, Chad, she met Dr. Faisal Abdelrahman, a general practitioner and Sudanese refugee working there. He helped her realize she was a survivor, and she was not alone in her trauma. A United Nations report released in December described “widespread allegations” of sexual violence in the war.

Women’s rights activists are risking their safety to document cases of sexual violence, determined to seek justice despite harassment and intimidation.

Sulaima Ishaq

“Women are paying the highest price of this war,” said Sulaima Ishaq, head of Sudan’s transitional government unit combating violence against women and children, in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor. Ishaq refuses to abandon her vital work supporting survivors, even as others urge her to seek safety abroad.

Despite the immense challenges, these brave women remain committed to helping survivors reclaim their lives and dignity. “It’s my responsibility to stay here [in Sudan] because I’m the one who can provide formal records and validate facts to protect women and girls,” Ishaq said in the same interview. “Many young girls and women look at me as a role model. I cannot betray them by going to seek safety in another country.”

Read the full story by Violet Ikong in The Christian Science Monitor.

Read more about Sulaima Ishaq in an article by Amel Mukhtar in British Vogue and an interview with Radio Tamazuj.

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