February 24, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese female activist has appeared bare-faced in a Youtube video and claimed that she was raped by three members of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
- Female activist Safiya Eshaq as she appeared in video
The 24-year-old Safiya Eshaq, a member of an anti-government youth group known as Grififna, said she was kidnapped, assaulted and gang-raped by plain-clothed security men on February 13th, nearly two weeks after she participated in anti-government protests.
Small anti-government protests erupted in Khartoum in late January as a response to a campaign organized via the internet by youth groups inspired by the popular revolts convulsing the Middle East and North Africa.
The protests were swiftly crushed by the police and members of the NISS who arrested dozens in the process, some of them still detained.
“After the rallies of January 30 I felt I was being watched…and I even told my friends that there are people watching me,” Safiya said in the video.
She recounted that her abduction took place when she was in Al-Hurriyah Street in central Khartoum at a bookstore.
Eshaq was then taken by plain-clothed men and bundled off to a “small white car.” She said she was beaten and taken to a security office in North Khartoum where she was physically assaulted and interrogated on her relationship with Girifna.
She passed out when one of the security men beat her as she tried to resist his attempt to remove her cloth.
“When I woke up I found two men holding my legs and a third penetrating me,” she said.
“I was in a lot of pain…they were three taking turns on me,” she added as her face cringed in pain.
Saffiya told Reuters in an interview from the capital of south Sudan Juba, to which she fled for fears of reprisal, that she got a doctor report confirming she was raped and reported the case to the police who first tried to talk her out of reporting the incident.
"They told me it would be better for me not to continue with this and were threatening me but after I brought the doctor’s report they accepted it," she said.
"I am not a strong person but I know there are so many women who are sexually assaulted but they keep silent. I want to tell girls like me to speak out, to let the world know what kind of regime this is," she said.
Eshaq said she never returned to her home in Khartoum to avoid endangering her family.
A source from NISS denied to Reuters that their forces had anything to do with the alleged rape, saying “All the papers are falsified."
The reported rape incident sparked furious reactions in the Sudanese cyberspace, with some calling on the government to open an investigation into the case.
The Sudanese government and its allied militias have allegedly used mass rape as a weapon in their abusive counterinsurgency against rebels in the western region of Darfur, in which the UN says more than 300,000 were killed and millions displaced since the conflict broke out in 2003.
International aid organizations were expelled from Darfur for reporting rape incidents.