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05 Aug 2004 13:28
Young women and girls captured by the government-backed Janjaweed militia, who are accused of a reign of terror in Sudan’s Darfur region, say they were used as sex slaves and servants.
Two young women, one carrying a baby, who arrived in the abandoned village of Kour, told AFP they had been kidnapped then released in the middle of the desert after several months because the militia did not want to be burdened by the child.
“The Janjaweed attacked my village, they picked out certain girls and then took us away,” said one of the women, who did not want to give her name.
She said she spent five months as a captive of the Arab militia, which were armed by the government in Khartoum to help it fight two rebel groups who early last year rose up to fight for the rights of non-Arab, black African ethnic groups in Darfur.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the resulting conflict and more than a million have been driven from their homes. The Janjaweed stand accused by rights groups and locals in Darfur of ethnic cleansing and widespread rape.
In the five months she spent as a captive of the Janjaweed, the woman in Kour village, who like her companion was in her early twenties, said she saw massacres, villages burned down, and countless rapes.
The militiamen pick what they see as the prettiest girls in each village and take them off to be their sex slaves, she said, echoing accusations made by people across the vast resource-rich Darfur.
“They made us have sex with them several times a day,” said the second young woman in Kour.
“Anyone who refused was killed.”
She said she was captured when she was five months pregnant and had spent 11 months in captivity.
“They said they wanted to dirty the honour of the blacks,” the young mother added.
The prisoners were also made to cook and wash for the militiamen, who are mostly from nomadic tribes and who travel by horse and camel.
A month ago, when the women’s captors broke camp, they told them they were to stay put.
So they were left on their own out in the middle of the desert.
This, said one of the girls, was typical behaviour on the part of the Janjaweed. New women are captured in every raid, and the militiamen then let the women go when they tire of them.
The two women said they were heading for the border with Chad, where about 180Â 000 Darfur refugees have fled, in the hope of finding relatives who may have escaped the Janjaweed’s attentions. â€’ Sapa-AFP
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