Sudan's Gender Based Violence

In a not too distant past, the world was an entirely different place and era. Practices that are now regarded as horrific crimes were widely used up until the late 1800s. These acts included genocide, rape, slavery, war crimes, and the murder of unarmed civilians. Such methods were abandoned as humanitarian missions gained popularity, first in the United States of America and subsequently globally. These actions are now considered crimes against humanity, and anyone found guilty of them may face charges for violating human rights. All of these practices are recognized as crimes in all the countries in the world, and particular organizations have been established and charged with the responsibility of persecuting all those found guilty of these charges. Although all these practices are recognized as crimes against humanity all over the world, the degree of seriousness to which these crimes are held differs around the world. First and second world countries consider these severe crimes. Third world countries, however, take such crimes lightly. One such crime would be rape especially in Africa where even their culture has constantly and continuously objectified women. Rape is still very prominent in African countries, and it goes unreported because the victims know that nothing will be done or worse they will be blamed for it. Sudan having undergone war due to the political turmoil is one of the countries whose women have been severely affected by rape. After all, women and children are usually the ones who suffer the most during and after the war.

Rape hasn't always been considered a crime against humanity.

Up until the year 1945, it was only classified as sexual assault. In the year 1945, the Foca rape case was tried in the International Criminal Court as a crime against humanity. The case was tried for the country formally known as ICTY which is now Yugoslavia, for crimes against humanity that were perpetrated in a war that happened in Bosnia. ‘The atrocities carried out in the Balkan war made it clear that rape could be used as a tool of terror in a campaign of "ethnic cleansing." The first conviction for rape as a war crime and a crime against humanity was made in the year 2001, and this changed the grounds under which the crime of rape can be tried for years to come.’ (Hagan, 2003).

Rape is being used as a weapon of war against the women and children of South Sudan during the war. The war in southern Sudan is based on tribal lines. Soldiers of different tribes have sworn to not only alienate themselves from members of their rival tribes but also to kill all of them who they consider infidels who need to be wiped off the face of the earth. These soldiers do not spare the women and children who belong to their rival tribes. Several women and children have been raped and left for dead. Some of them have survived and have given their stories about their gruesome ordeals to several different news houses. Based on the severity of the use of rape as war weapon it has quickly been categorically classified as a pandemic that should be stopped as soon as possible to spare the innocent women and children the physical and psychological effects of having gone through such torture.

In their testimonies, several women attest to having been beaten, raped repeatedly, gang-raped and even being killed just for belonging to a different tribe from the government soldiers who have been given the mandate the same people who they are now killing. Humanitarian missions have set up camps and support centers in places that are considered safe zones to help these women psychologically and physically. Here the humanitarian workers hear all types of rape stories.

One woman gives her testimony saying that ‘when she got off the bus, the soldiers took her along with other women. The soldiers told her that they would beat and kill her, but the plan changed when they saw a small house on the roadside. They took her to this small house where she was raped by ten of them. In her case, they were six women in total, and two of them were never seen again. She is now eight months pregnant. A second woman gives her testimony saying that her children hadn't had anything to eat for four days and since she had some money she decided to get them something to eat at the market. On her way back home the soldiers grabbed her tied her hands with a piece of cloth and then raped her. A third gives her story saying that she was raped by is six soldiers and then she lost consciousness and later found herself back to the camp. (PBS, 2017)

All these women and their stories have one thing in common. All the men who raped them were in uniform; the military uniform. These testimonials are endless with almost every woman at the camp having her own rape story if not one. These camps are already full but continue to take in more people who are fleeing from tribal crimes. The camps cannot move to bigger grounds due to the war and shanties have now been formed where the U.N soldiers can keep these people safe. ‘The U.N reports that 70% of the women, who have been raped, was raped by the government soldiers.'

Most of their husbands have joined the rebel forces to fight against the military forces as that is the only courageous thing to do and the only way they think they can keep their families safe. By choosing to leave their families to join the war, these men have left them as prey to perils such as starvation, rape, and death.

The situation in southern Sudan will only continue to worsen if the conflict between the two rival parties is not fixed. Peacekeeping missions need to sit down and devise a way to organize for peace talks or a way to end the conflict so that these crimes against the innocent women and children of Sudan can stop as soon as possible. After that, the International Criminal Court needs to look into the happenings of the war to prosecute those who were in charge of giving such orders and those who took and acted upon such orders. The women and children of Sudan live in fear of what could happen to them if they leave the camps but they also live in the hope of a better and peaceful Sudan.


Hagan, John. 2003. Justice in the Balkans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ch. 6, pp. 176-203

News Hour, PBS. (May 3, 2017). How rape is used as a weapon in South Sudan’s war. [Audio] Retrieved from

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