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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Sudan: Alarming reports of women and girls abducted and forced to marry, held for ransom

03 November 2023


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell



We are deeply alarmed by reports that women and girls are being abducted and held in inhuman, degrading slave-like conditions in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur, where they are allegedly forcibly married and held for ransom. Credible information from survivors, witnesses and other sources suggests more than 20 women and girls have been taken, but the number could be higher.

Some sources have reported seeing women and girls in chains on pick-up trucks and in cars.

Initial allegations arose early in the conflict in the Khartoum area, which has remained largely under the control of the Rapid Support Forces. One of the reports indicated that women and girls had been abducted and detained at a location in the city’s Al-Riyadh district, from as early as 24 April. Since then, we have continued to receive reports of abductions, with an increasing number of cases being reported in the Darfur region, particularly North, Central and South Darfur, and in the Kordofan region.

These shocking reports come amid a persistent climb in cases of sexual violence in the country since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces six months ago.

According to our documentation, at least 105 people have been subjected to sexual violence since the hostilities began on 15 April 2023.

As of 2 November, our Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan had received credible reports of more than 50 incidents of sexual violence linked to the hostilities, impacting at least 105 victims - 86 women, one man and 18 children. Twenty-three of the incidents involved rape, 26 were of gang rape and three were of attempted rape.

At least 70 percent of the confirmed incidents of sexual violence recorded - 37 incidents in total – are attributed to men in RSF uniforms, eight to armed men affiliated with the RSF, two to men in unidentified uniform, and one to the Sudan Armed Forces. The remaining cases involved as yet unidentified men.

We restate High Commissioner Volker Türk’s calls on senior officials of both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces – as well as armed groups affiliated with them - to unequivocally condemn these vile acts and issue – urgently – clear instructions to their subordinates demanding zero tolerance of sexual violence. They must also ensure the abducted women and girls are promptly released, and provided with the necessary support, including medical and psychosocial care, and that all alleged cases are fully and promptly investigated, with those found responsible held accountable and brought to justice.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva

Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] or
Jeremy Laurence +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] or
Marta Hurtado + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

In Nairobi

Seif Magango +254 788 343 897 / [email protected]
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