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Sudan urged to overhaul rape laws

[JURIST] Humanitarian group Refugees International [advocacy website] Friday released a report [PDF text] documenting flaws in Sudanese law that leaves rapists unpunished and allows the prosecution of rape victims [press release] for sex outside marriage. According to the report, government soldiers and sanctioned militias are often the perpetrators, but laws in Sudan [JURIST news archive] grant immunity to members of the military, security forces, and police officers. The report also says that prosecutors are more likely to instead charge victims who reported the rape. Women who cannot prove that the sex was nonconsensual can be charged with adultery, and lashed or stoned as punishment. Rapes in Sudan have drastically increased, and the crime is described by Refugees International as being "one of the hallmarks" of the conflict in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. Many militia members committing atrocities in Darfur are affiliated with government forces, and are therefore immune from prosecution.

Refugees International urged the government to acknowledge the problem, forbid prosecution for adultery when victims have alleged rape, and give the testimony of men and women equal weight in evidentiary laws. The group also called for an end to government immunity for rape, and asked Sudan to work to end harassment of women testifying in rape cases. The International Criminal Court [official website] is seeking the arrest of a government official and a militia leader [JURIST report] for allegedly committing war crimes in Darfur, including rape. BBC News has more.

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