Rights lobby says Darfur rape victims lack legal protection

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- The rape of women and girls in Sudan's Darfur region has continued to worsen, committed by the government forces and militia groups patr o lling the war-scarred region, an international human rights lobby group said on M onday.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a new report that neither go vernment security forces nor international peacekeepers had provided sufficient p rotection for women and girls who remained extremely vulnerable to rape.
The women and children had also faced other abuses during large-scale attacks an d even in periods of relative calm, Human Rights Watch said.
"Survivors of sexual violence face numerous obstacles to justice, leaving them w ithout meaningful redress.
Where the perpetrators are soldiers or militia, the c h ances of prosecution are still more remote," the HRW said in the report.
The rights lobby group said women and girls needed protection from rape and brut al attacks still being committed by government forces and armed groups throughou t Darfur.
It documents the widespread prevalence of sexual violence throughout Darfur and details incidents of violent rape perpetrated on girls as young as 11 years-old.
The government of Sudan had failed to rein in the abuse, much of which was carri ed out by their own soldiers and allied militia, the report said.
In spite of the presence of international peacekeepers in Darfur, they have to d ate been under-resourced and unable to protect women and girls from rape and oth e r forms of violence.
"Women and girls in Darfur are still living under the constant threat of rape," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch.
She noted the Sudanese government had declared "zero-tolerance" for sexual viole nce, yet had done almost nothing to protect these victims.
Incidents of rape and other sexual violence by government soldiers, members of t he Janjaweed militia, rebels and ex-rebels across Darfur have been implicated in the rape ordeals since early 2007.
HWR said in February 2008 that at least 10 women and girls were raped when gover nment forces and allied militia carried out a massive air and ground attack on t h e villages of Sirba, Silea, and Abu Suruj in West Darfur, according to local res i dents.
Soldiers, militia, rebels and ex-rebels also rape women and girls outside displa ced persons camps and in rural areas.

07 april 2008 21:13:00

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