Su­dan rapes, ab­duc­tions ‘dis­turb­ing’

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

BENTIU — One woman was ab­ducted by sol­diers and taken to a mil­i­tary camp, tied up and raped re­peat­edly for two months.

Another was kid­napped with her 15-year-old sis­ter and raped ev­ery night for five nights. A third was taken to a for­est with her 12-yearold daugh­ter where both were raped.

The ab­duc­tion of women and girls for use as sex slaves — some of them held in­def­i­nitely, tied up with hun­dreds of oth­ers in se­cret rape camps — is a dis­turb­ing new as­pect of South Su­dan’s 21-month con­flict, al­ready char­ac­terised by well-doc­u­mented war crimes and hu­man rights abuses.

Nige­ria’s ‘Chi­bok girls’, ab­ducted by Boko Haram in April 2014, and Iraq’s Yazidi women taken as sex slaves by Is­lamic State are well­known.

But the plight of per­haps thou­sands of South Su­danese women and girls from just a sin­gle state, ab­ducted and sub­jected to re­peated, bru­tal rape and slave-like work­ing con­di­tions has re­mained hid­den un­til now.

Dozens of in­ter­views con­ducted by AFP in the north­ern Unity State re­veal a sys­tem­atic pat­tern of ab­duc­tion and rape per­pe­trated by gov­ern­ment sol­diers and their al­lied mili­tia dur­ing a re­cent of­fen­sive.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion fo­cused on at­tacks by gov­ern­ment forces but both sides have per­pe­trated eth­nic mas­sacres, re­cruited and killed chil­dren and car­ried out wide­spread rape, tor­ture and forced dis­place­ment of pop­u­la­tions to “cleanse” ar­eas of their op­po­nents. Nyabena’s ex­pe­ri­ence is typ­i­cal. The 30-year old mother was seized when sol­diers at­tacked her vil­lage in Rubkona County in April. Men and boys were shot.

Homes were looted and burned to the ground. Women and girls were rounded up. She was among 40 back and tie you to the post again,” she said, stretch­ing her el­bows be­hind her back to show how she was bound. She said be­ing raped by four men a night was com­mon.

Women who re­fused to work or fought against their rape would dis­ap­pear. “In the morn­ing we dis­cover they are miss­ing,” she said. Of the 40 she ar­rived with in April, 10 dis­ap­peared this way.

Nya­mai, a 38-year-old mother of five, was taken from her vil­lage in Koch County. She was guarded con­stantly and tied up fre­quently. As many as 10 sol­diers would queue up at night for their turn rap­ing her.

“Please, let one guy deal with me, don’t come all of you,” she pleaded, and was beaten with a stick in re­sponse.

In another case, three of Ny­at­u­ach’s un­mar­ried, teenaged daugh­ters were ab­ducted in May dur­ing an at­tack on their vil­lage in Rubkona County. Two are still miss­ing, but her 17-year old daugh­ter es­caped with three of her nieces.

They re­turned “very sick, very thin”.

“Their bod­ies were weak and they were leak­ing flu­ids from so many men hav­ing in­ter­course with them,” Ny­at­u­ach said, a com­mon symp­tom of fis­tula, an in­con­ti­nence-caus­ing tear in the wall be­tween the vagina and blad­der or rec­tum, that can be caused by par­tic­u­larly vi­o­lent rape.

Oth­ers were raped re­peat­edly un­til, bleed­ing and un­able to take any more, they were set free, or killed.

“When the girls were bro­ken they would dis­pose of them,” said Ny­at­u­ach.

Re­becca found her 12-year old daugh­ter again the day af­ter their vil­lage in Koch County was at­tacked.

“When they took me, those peo­ple used me,” the girl told her mother. Re­becca boiled some wa­ter and washed her daugh­ter with hot cloths. We can do noth­ing,” she told her. “It’s like that.” — AFP

South Su­danese sol­diers have been ac­cused of abus­ing women

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