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Open Letter Calls for Protection of Darfur Women

The NGO Minority Rights Group International is sending an open letter to human rights leaders calling for better protection for women in Darfur. Gender officer Katrina Naomi says, “Rape is being used as a tool of war and militias are being allowed to act with impunity.”

From London, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the reasons for the open letter. “The situation in Darfur has been in a bad way for quite a while now. And we feel that in some ways the attention of the world is moving elsewhere. But the number of rapes that are happening on minority women in Darfur, unfortunately, that isn’t lessening, and we felt it was important to try and keep a spotlight on the way that militias are able to rape women with impunity, it seems, in Darfur.”

Asked how UN or human rights officials could pressure the Khartoum government, Naomi says, “We felt, Minority Rights Group, that by sending open letters to various experts at the United Nations that we could try and draw the attention back onto that very difficult situation in Darfur. After all, the government of Sudan under international law does have to try and protect women within the state, regardless of who’s actually carrying out these attacks…. Some of the UN officials will have more access to the government of Sudan or perhaps to the some of the voices that the government of Sudan may listen to. The other thing that these UN experts can do is to keep the focus on the level of attacks that are happening to minority women in Darfur. Otherwise, we feel the attention will have moved away from Darfur and onto other parts of the world.”