Hundreds of women have rallied in Sudan against sexual violence following allegations that 13 women and girls were raped at a protest on Sunday.
The UN said it had received “disturbing reports” that security force members sexually abused women at the demonstration against the military.
The US and other Western powers criticised the use of sexual violence “to drive women away” from protests.
The security forces have not yet commented on the allegations.
Women have been at the forefront of the wave of pro-democracy protests that have taken place in Sudan since the military staged a coup in October.
“Rape will not stop us” and “the women of Sudan are stronger” were among the defiant messages at Thursday’s protests in the capital, Khartoum. and its twin city, Omdurman.
In a joint statement, the US and European Union said they condemned the use of sexual violence “as a weapon” to silence the voices of women.
The statement – also signed by the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Canada – called for an independent investigation into the allegations of violence.
Two people were also reportedly killed during Sunday’s protest, when hundreds of thousands marched in Khartoum to condemn the coup.
Pro-democracy activists accuse the military of stealing the revolution that led to long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir being ousted in 2019.
Coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has defended October’s military take over, alleging that the army acted to prevent a civil war because political groups had been inciting civilians against the security forces.
He says he is still committed to the transition to civilian rule, with elections planned for July 2023.
Under last month’s agreement reached with the reinstated civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, he will lead a cabinet of technocrats until elections are held.
But it is unclear how much power the new civilian government will have, as it will be subject to military oversight.
There has been intense speculation in recent days about the future of Hamdok, with some reports suggesting that he plans to resign while others say that he has been persuaded by Gen Burhan to remain in office.
Source: Nam News Network