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Sexual abuse, intimidation by security forces

The abuses appear to have increased as public protests and demonstrations escalated following the Arab uprisings, the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economic downturn, and the proliferation of new wars in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

(NAIROBI, MARCH 24, 2016) – Sudanese security forces have used sexual violence, intimidation, and other forms of abuse to silence female human rights defenders across the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government should investigate all alleged abuses, hold those responsible to account, and undertake legislative reforms to protect women’s rights.

The 61-page report, “‘Good Girls Don’t Protest’: Repression and Abuse of Women Human Rights Defenders, Activists, and Protesters in Sudan,” documents efforts by Sudanese authorities to silence women who are involved in protests, rights campaigns, and other public action, and who provide social services and legal aid, as well as journalists. Women engaged in these efforts are targeted with a range of abuses, from rape and rape threats, to deliberate efforts to tar their reputations. Their male counterparts may be less likely to experience some of these abuses.

“Sudanese women who defend human rights experience political repression like their male colleagues but are also vulnerable to sexual assault and intimidation because they are women,” said , including Safiya Ishaq, a member of the group Girifna (“we are fed up”), whose alleged assault and rape was widely reported. The government denied the rape and several journalists were charged with crimes for reporting it.

Activists from Nuba Mountains and Darfur allege that they were detained and raped – or threatened with rape – and racially insulted. 

In October 2014, security officers to crack down harshly on protests and restrict media and independent civil society across the board. On February 29, 2016, national security officials raided the Khartoum-based group Tracks for Training and Human Development, for the second time in a year, and as of mid-March, have been interrogating some staff members on a near-daily basis. In July 2014, Salmmah Center, a women’s group, was summarily shut down, its assets seized and auctioned.

Human Rights Watch has