By SARA MALM
A nine-months pregnant teenager who claims she was raped by seven men in Sudan is now facing the death penalty after being charged with adultery.
The married Ethiopian woman was just 18 years old, and three months pregnant, when she was subjected to the attack in August last year.
She says she was searching for a new home in Omdurman, near the capital Khartoum, and one of the seven accused lured her into an empty property on the premises of renting it out to her and her husband.
Unbelievable brutality: The pregnant Ethiopian teenager was raped by seven men after being lured into an empty building near the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, on the premise of renting the property (stock image)
She was attacked and held down while a group of men, reportedly aged between 18 and 22, took turns in raping her, according to the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) network.
Her ordeal was filmed by one of the perpetrators and was circulated on social media via WhatsApp several months after the attack.
When the video of the rape surfaced, the woman and the alleged rapists were arrested and accused of making and distributing indecent material and indecent behaviour.
After first being denied bail, and later charged with prostitution and adultery, the woman is now being prevented from making a formal complaint of rape.
Sudanese media reporting the case has tried to undermine the woman’s story by claiming she has HIV and is a prostitute, SIHA said.
The woman is being held by police and refused to report the rape by the Sudanese Attorney General as she is being investigated for adultery and incident behaviour (stock image)
‘The intention to place culpability on the part of the victim is of great concern and seeks to deflect and reduce accountability of the perpetrators, but more disturbing is that the charge of adultery carries with it the potential sentence of death by stoning if found guilty,’ SIHA said.
‘There have even been cynical attempts to falsely claim that the men were accidently prescribed hallucinogenic drugs by a chemist beforehand.’
‘Impunity and silence on crimes of sexual violence committed against IDPs [internally displaced persons], migrants and impoverished women in Sudan has been a pattern for years,’ Hala Alkarib, regional director of the SIHA network, told the Guardian.
‘Successful prosecution of rape is the exception as opposed to the norm and most certainly does not reflect the level of incidence.
‘Instead victims face the risk that they will instead be prosecuted for adultery, being re-vicitmised by the judicial system, and threatened with the ultimate sentence of death by stoning.’
According to SIHA, the Attorney General has denied her the right to report the rape as she is currently under investigation for the other charges.
The Attorney General also argues that she should have reported the rape at the time of the attack.
However the woman has told her lawyer that the group of men who attacked her threatened to kill her if she told anyone, and as a result, she was too scared to report it.
She was further deterred by the fact that she told a police officer who found her shortly after the attack what had happened, who dismissed her story.
The police officer decided against pursuing an investigation as it was Eid Al Fitr, a public holiday in the Muslim country, SIHA said. He has been charged with negligence.
The teenager was arrested on the 17th of January and despite being close to giving birth, she has since been sleeping on a concrete floor in a cell at a local police station.
Two attempts to secure bail for her on health grounds have been refused.
A total of ten individuals, including another police officer who helped spread the video, are currently on trial related to this case.