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Sudanese women march to protest rapes blamed on security forces

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Hundreds of women marched in Omdurman and protests hit other Sudanese cities on Thursday in response to allegations that 13 women were raped during anti-military rule protests earlier in the week.

The United Nations Human Rights Office received 13 allegations of rape and gang rape by security forces during the protests on Sunday.

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That demonstration drew hundreds of thousands of people to the capital Khartoum to protest against a military coup on Oct. 25. They converged on the presidential palace, where they attempted a sit-in before being dispersed by security forces after sundown.

Women’s groups organized Thursday’s marches, supported by neighborhood resistance committees and political parties, around the capital Khartoum, neighboring Bahri and Omdurman, as well cities across the country including Kassala, Damazine, Kosti and Kadugli, according to images shared on social media.

“They use rape to scare us from pouring into the streets or for our families to prevent us from protesting, but we will not stop, we will not be afraid, and we will resist,” said activist Walaa Abdelaziz, protesting in Omdurman.

Some of the protesters beat drums, while others chanted, “The military belongs in the barracks, and the streets are full of women.”

Suleima Ishaq, director of the Combating Violence Against Women Unit, a government agency, said the group gave medical aid to eight rape victims. She described the assaults as “systematic.”

“The protests on December 19th were dispersed using unprecedented violence...It was a method involved in the dispersal of this protest to use sexual violence, so we don’t believe that it was a coincidence or a one-off event.”

In a statement, the United States, European Union, UK and other Western countries condemned the rapes and urged that “perpetrators are held accountable regardless of affiliation.”

“This protest proves that we will not be broken no matter what,” said activist Amira Gomaa. “We consider those who carried out those acts against women wolves who need to be prosecuted, and there will come a day when they will be prosecuted and we know every single one of them.”

Read more: US, UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE welcome political agreement in Sudan, call for elections

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