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Abduction

Abducting a woman from a village in Darfur.

Source: Waging Peace Darfuri Children's Drawings Women and children being abducted at gunpoint by soldiers.

Whenever the Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed militia attacked villages, they targeted women and girls in order to abduct them and make them sex slaves. These kidnappings were rampant during the Darfur conflict, as the attackers used them as a way to force male family members to surrender.

Many of the people who were abducted also ended up being tortured and beaten. The fear that these abductions instilled in the community was intense and made civilians restrict their movements--making them easy targets for the attackers. Villagers and the displaced persons had to endure many hardships, and they went days without water or firewood to cook what little food they had. Children also had to bear the brunt of this trauma, constantly in fear of being abducted. Whenever food and water ran out, girls and boys risked their lives by going out to fetch water and firewood despite the high probability of being attacked, beaten and abducted. 

Abduction.

Source: Waging Peace Darfuri Children's Drawings. Darfuri women being abducted at gunpoint while going to the market.

Approximately one quarter of the displaced population witnessed women and children being abducted during the conflict in Darfur. Abductions were common, especially when girls were heading to the market or when they were going to fetch firewood or water. Despite attempts to defend themselves, young girls and women were easily overpowered because they lacked the weapons to fight back. This emboldened the attackers, who knew that they were easy targets.

These abductions and other attacks on civilians had negative effects on the community. In most cases the abductees were traumatized, and the experiences that they had to endure led to pyschological, physical and social stigma for the families affected. Fear engulfed entire communities and made many people stop attending to their crops--especially those planted far from home. Thus, a food crisis soon developed among the civillian population.

Humanitarian aid workers also became targets for abduction as the conflict progressed. Once abducted, ransom would be demanded. The abductors would always threaten to kill the aid worker just to hasten payment of the ransom. Other times, abduction was used as a scare tactic to force aid workers to leave so that civilians could be attacked; as a result, the incidence of reporting in the international media dropped.