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Human Rights Group Charges Systematic Rapes In Darfur - 2004-07-19

An international human-rights organization says Sudanese soldiers and government-sponsored militia operating in the war-torn Darfur region are responsible for systematic rape of women to spread terror among the population.

The Darfur crisis coordinator of Amnesty International, Pollyanna Truscott, paints a devastating picture of what many women and girls in Darfur experience as the war rages on.

"Women and girls are being killed, raped, gang raped, raped in public, abducted, tortured, and forced into sexual slavery. Their killers, rapists, and torturers are members of the government-backed militia known as the janjaweed, and in some cases also, soldiers of the Sudanese government," she says.

She says the militia and government troops use rape as a systematic tool to humiliate, control, and de-humanize women, and target mostly dark-skinned women from certain ethnic groups.

Amnesty International says it interviewed more than 100 women in refugee camps in Chad, and included some of their testimony in the report.

Ms. Truscott reads from one witness's story.

"There was another rape on a 17-year-old girl. "M" was raped by six men in front of her house, in front of her mother, and then her brother was tied up and thrown into the fire. I saw many cases of janjaweed raping women and girls. They are happy when they rape. They sing when they rape, and they tell us that we are just slaves, and that they can do with us as they wish."

Amnesty International called on the Sudanese government and the international community to disarm and demobilize the janjaweed militia and to help rape survivors. It also asked the Sudanese government to arrest and punish those responsible for the violence.