Sexual violence against women in Darfur escalates

Peace can't come soon enough in the three-year genocide.

Published May 4, 2006 5:14PM (EDT)

Thursday, the peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels in Darfur took a hopeful turn. An accord can't come soon enough.

Estimates of the dead in the 3-year-old crisis, which the U.S. has called a genocide, run from 180,000 to 400,000. And women in Darfur are increasingly suffering sexual violence, according to Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights who recently visited the region. "I am absolutely persuaded that the sexual violence against women ... is worsening every day," she told Reuters. When women leave their camps to look for firewood, men on horseback or riding camels attack them.

As the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof reported last June, there's a chilling reason that women are the ones who go out to get the firewood, risking rape.

"It's simple," one woman told Kristof. "When the men go out, they're killed. The women are only raped."

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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