Gang rape of young woman leads to fresh protests in Sudan
PROTESTERS marched in Khartoum and other cities, one day after a Sudanese government official said security forces had gang-raped a young woman.
Rallies in Khartoum and several other cities were called after reports of the assault emerged late on Monday. One flyer read: “Wars are not fought on women’s bodies.”
Sudan has been rocked for months by protests rejecting an October 25 military coup, organised by neighbourhood-based resistance committees.
Protesters in the capital on Tuesday faced heavy tear gas and stun grenades as they marched towards the country’s presidential palace, a Reuters reporter said.
Among them were many young women and girls, and some carried signs reading, “They will not break you” and “We will not be broken.”
“What happened yesterday is not just oppression of women but of the whole Sudanese people, and we will continue to take to the street until our demands of freedom, justice, and human dignity are granted,” said Amira Salih, a 38-year-old teacher.
Sulaima Ishaq, who heads Sudan’s Violence Against Women Unit at the Ministry of Social Development, said a 19-year-old South Sudanese woman, who was not a protester, was on a public bus as protests wound down on Monday evening, when forces fired tear gas, causing passengers to disembark.
The woman was then raped by two members of the forces and assaulted by others, Ishaq told Reuters, adding that the incident was under investigation by police.
Eyewitnesses told Reuters they could see the forces attacking the woman from nearby buildings.
Police did not respond to a request for comment.
In December, the United Nations said it had received 13 allegations of rape and gang rape after a Dec. 19 attempted sit-in was dispersed in central Khartoum.
The incident comes as the U.N. and several countries have been critical of security crackdowns, which have killed at least 87 people since October. At least 133 people at protests were injured on Monday, including 35 by shotgun pellets, doctors aligned with the protest movement said.
Elsewhere, student protests erupted for the second consecutive day in the cities of Atbara and Nyala, while protesters in Port Sudan took to the streets as a government delegation visited the city, unverified images on social media showed.