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Sudan: Official says security forces attempted to rape woman near protest march

Woman, who was not a protester, is alleged to have been assaulted by several members of the security forces on Monday
The UN and several countries have been critical of security crackdowns, which have killed at least 87 people since October (Reuters)

A Sudanese government official said on Tuesday that security forces had attempted to rape a young woman during a protest against military rule in central Khartoum a day earlier, prompting calls for renewed demonstrations.

Sulaima Ishaq, who heads Sudan's Violence Against Women Unit at the Ministry of Social Development, said the woman, who was not a protester, was travelling on a public bus when forces stationed near the march route fired tear gas, causing passengers to disembark.

The woman was then assaulted by several members of the security forces, Ishaq told Reuters, without giving further details. Police did not respond to a request from the news agency for comment.

Sudan coup: UN documents 13 incidents of rape during mass protests on Sunday
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In December, the United Nations said it had received 13 allegations of rape and gang rape following an attempted sit-in on 19 December which was dispersed in central Khartoum.

"Our Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan has received allegations that 13 women and girls were victims of rape or gang rape," Liz Throssell, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson based in Geneva, said at the time.

"We have also received allegations of sexual harassment by security forces against women who were trying to flee the area around the presidential palace on Sunday evening."

Following those allegations, the UN called for "a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the allegations of rape and sexual harassment".

Scores dead

Protests rejecting a 25 October military coup have rocked Sudan for months, organised by neighbourhood-based committees.

After reports of Monday's alleged assault, committees in the cities of Khartoum, Bahri and Omdurman announced a spontaneous march towards the country's presidential palace. One flyer read: "Wars are not fought on women's bodies."

The October coup was led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who declared a state of emergency and ousted the government in a move that upended a two-year transition to civilian rule.

Monday's incident came as the UN and several countries criticised the security crackdowns, which have killed at least 87 people since October. 

At least 133 people were injured at protests on Monday, including 35 by shotgun pellets, doctors aligned with the protest movement said.

Women have played a prominent role in the latest round of protests, as well as the 2019 protests that led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir.

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