Human Rights Watch reported on Monday that sexual violence in Darfur continues to be a constant threat for women and girls. According to HRW, the vast majority of crimes against women are left unpunished.
The report documents violence against girls as young as 11 being committed by government soldiers and militias allied with them. The BBC reports that more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003 as a result of war and genocidal policies and some 2.5 million people have been displaced.
HRW is calling on the government of Sudan and the United Nations (UN)-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) to address the issue of widespread sexual violence by condemning these crimes and enforcing the condemnation with the end of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.
This Sunday, April 13, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Save Darfur Coalition, Amnesty International USA and numerous other human-rights groups will stage a Global Day for Darfur. The core of the action will be Amnesty’s interactive exhibition, Displaced, which will be set up in five tents on the Mall. In addition to personal narratives and photographs, items of everyday life from regional refugee camps will be on display and displaced residents of Darfur will offer first-hand testimony of the harrowing reality of the region. Visitors will be encouraged to consider how displaced civilians cope with safety, medical issues, food, education for children and other everyday concerns.
Activists will also be calling on President Bush to fulfill his pledge to help end the violence by influencing the speedy progress (and equipping) of the UNAMID peacekeeping force. “President Bush has promised over and over again to protect the people of Darfur,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “He is running out of time and the people of Darfur, especially children who have known nothing but conflict, need the full peacekeeping force to protect them now.”
Watch this short video for a sense of why the world needs to act.