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Rapes, unplanned pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence on the rise in Sudan’s forgotten war

Widespread conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence demonstrates how it is being used as a tool of war to subjugate, terrorise and punish women and girls.

Khartoum, 4 December 2023 — As the war in Sudan enters its eight month with no end in sight, widespread conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has continued unabated, including reports of mass rapes, sexual exploitation and sexual harassment which demonstrate how sexual violence is being used as a tool of war to subjugate, terrorise and punish women and girls.

Since the war between Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces erupted on April 15th, reports of ethnically targeted sexual and gender-based violence have escalated across Sudan, leading to a surge in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague said in July it is investigating the hostilities in Darfur, including reports of killings, rapes and crimes against children. Rape has often been used as a weapon of war over the years in Sudan, human rights groups have said. Sexual violence is prohibited in conflict, and the accounts of rape could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The prevailing conflict and social unrest in various regions of Sudan have created an environment rife for SGBV, leaving countless individuals exposed to the gravest violations of their most intimate rights. Deeply disturbing accounts of gang rapes, sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of sexual, physical and psychological violence have emerged, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare for survivors.

IPPF’s local member association in Sudan, the Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) has been providing these services across Sudan since the outbreak of the war, including counselling, medical assistance, and referrals for survivors of SGBV. Despite unprovoked attacks on six SFPA facilities which have so far killed one youth volunteer and injured numerous clients and staff, as well as interrupted the delivery of some health services, SFPA has continued to work in conflict-affected areas through their large network of community based distributors and mobile clinics.

Dr Seham Jaber, the director of Digital Health Interventions and Services at SFPA said: 

“We have noticed escalating rates of sexual and gender-based violence in Sudan since the outbreak of the war in April. Violence against women and girls is occurring at the hands of militants, as well as an increase in domestic and intimate partner violence, including rape. Young girls and boys are living in overcrowded shelters are reporting to us cases of sexual harassment and abuse."

Confidentiality, sensitivity and compassion are crucial to SFPA’s work, because many survivors of sexual violence don’t seek medical treatment due to the fear of social stigma and reprisals. SFPA's website and hotline have seen a considerable increase in traffic for reports of SGBV from the community since the start of the war. In response, SFPA is also running community awareness and education campaigns on SGBV, and is enlisting the support of local Imams to promote gender equality, and foster a culture of respect and consent.

For media inquiries or to speak to one of our staff in Sudan, please contact [email protected] 

About the Sudan Family Planning Association

The Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) was established in 1965 by pioneers in obstetrics and gynecology in response to increases in maternal, neonatal and infant mortality and morbidity. Sudan is a country in great need of frontline sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. In 2022, SFPA provided 26 million services through 24 clinics, 261 associated clinics, and 37 mobile clinics. Since the start of the war on 15 April 2023; the Association teams have been successful in providing 14,706,000 services through 24 SFPA facilities , mobile clinics, mobile teams ,CBDs and partners clinics . SFPA was able to assist 1,145 deliveries under bombardment and provided 167,000 treatments of HIV&AIDS “HIV screening and care for PLHIV” through its static clinics. Mobile clinics are used to offer integrated SRH services including HIV/STI services and condom distribution, STI testing and management, HIV testing and treatment for HIV opportunistic infections, referrals for ARV treatment including PMTCT and awareness sessions both at mobile clinics and at the community level by community health promoters and community base distributors (CBDs).

About the International Planned Parenthood Federation 

IPPF, through its 149 Member Associations and collaborative partners, delivers high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare and helps advance sexual and reproductive rights, especially for marginalized people with diverse needs that are currently unmet. IPPF's Member Associations and partners are locally owned, independent organisations, which means the support and care they provide are informed by local expertise and context. IPPF advocates for a world where people have the information they need to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and their bodies. We stand up and fight for sexual and reproductive rights and against those who seek to deny people their human right to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive freedom. We deliver care rooted in rights, respect, and dignity for all - no matter what.





Arab World



Related Member Association

Sudan Family Planning Association