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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sudan's Department of Gang Rape by Nicholas D. Kristof

November 22, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
Sudan's Department of Gang Rape
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Kalma Camp, Sudan

When the Arab men in military uniforms caught Noura Moussa and raped her the other day, they took the trouble to explain themselves.

"We cannot let black people live in this land," she remembers them telling her, and they used racial epithets against blacks, called her a slave, and added: "We can kill any members of African tribes."

Ms. Noura is one of thousands of women and girls to be gang-raped in Darfur, as part of what appears to be a deliberate Sudanese government policy to break the spirit of several African tribes through mass rape.

This policy is shrewd as well as brutal, for the exceptional stigma of rape here often silences victims even as it terrorizes the entire population and forces people to flee.

Ms. Noura, 22, expected to be married soon, and the neighbors said she probably would have received a bride price of 30 cows. These days, they say, she will be lucky to find any husband at all - and will not get a single cow.

This is the first genocide of the 21st century, and we are collectively letting the Sudanese government get away with it. Sudan's leaders appear to have made a calculated decision that some African tribes in the Darfur region are more of a headache than the international protests that result when it depopulates large areas of those tribes. In effect, it is our acquiescence that allows the rapes and murders to continue.

The solution isn't to send American troops. But a starting point is to convey American outrage - loudly and insistently - and demonstrate that Darfur is an American priority.

Ms. Noura's saga began when the Sudanese Army and janjaweed militia burned down her village a year ago and killed her father. She and her family fled here to Kalma, but she is the eldest child and needed money to support her younger brothers and sisters.

So she ventured out of Kalma to cut grass in the nearby fields to sell. That was when the men raped and beat her, leaving her unable to walk home.

Rape leads to particular injuries in Darfur because many girls, as part of female circumcision rites, have their vaginas sewn shut with a wild thorn. The resulting physical trauma from rape%2

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