Sudan rights group slams ‘rape’ by security forces

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese security forces have sexually attacked women in Khartoum repeatedly as part of a new strategy to repress opposition activists, a Sudan rights group said on Wednesday.

“Tens of cases of sexual violence have been documented by several human rights groups in Khartoum,” a spokesman for Sudan Democracy First told AFP.

“It does not represent a new policy for the security forces. However, it is new in being used against peaceful civil and political rights activists.

“The current sexual crimes being committed in Khartoum are a continuation and expansion of thousands of similar crimes committed in the Darfur region,” added the spokesman, who gave his name only as Monim.

Neither the security officials nor the interior ministry were immediately available to respond to the allegations.

In a video clip posted on the Internet on Monday, an art student belonging to the Sudanese youth opposition group Girifna alleges she was raped by three security officers on February 13 after being arrested on her way to the shops in central Khartoum to buy paper.

“The used very bad insults, and they wouldn’t let me wear my headscarf. They tore up my papers,” says the young woman, identified only as S.E.

“They beat me all over my body. They undressed me and after that three men raped me. Then they told me to leave,” says the woman, who appears to be lying on a hospital bed, with a scarf over her face.

The Sudan Democracy First group said official medical reports verified the occurrence of repetitive rape, and listed five other instances of women activists being beaten and verbally assaulted in the past three weeks in Khartoum.

Widespread economic and political discontent have provoked sporadic protests in north Sudan since January, but the powerful security forces have maintained tight control in the capital.

Localised but vocal protests calling for regime change, civil liberties and an end to soaring price rises erupted in Khartoum and other northern cities at the end of last month, organised by students via the Internet and inspired by the protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters and made more than 100 arrests.

Relatives of the protesters arrested last month allege that some of the detainees have been tortured by the security forces.

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