Rape has been used throughout history as a way to dehumanize women and entire societies during times of war. In some instances rape is used to try and destroy the ethnic identity of a group by lowering the dignity of the victims.
In many African communities, including those in Darfur, a woman who is raped not only gets victimized by the person who raped her, but also by her own family. The perception of a woman who has been raped is that of a person who has become unclean. In Darfur, rape was prevalent and led many of the victims to be traumatized. Many rape victims were so ashamed that they ended up not telling anyone they were raped. This choice not to tell others was protection against being victimized by one's own family and society.
Since the onset of the Darfur conflict in 2003, tens of thousands of women and girls have reported being raped by troops in Sudan's army and by the Janjaweed militia group. Girls as young as 6 years old, and even the elderly, were not spared. Many of the women who were raped were either infected with sexually-transmitted diseases or had to carry pregnancies that resulted from the rape. This became the epitome of humiliating a woman and her community; for the harm is not only physical, but emotional, social and psychological.
Apart from rape and attempted rape, there were other acts of sexual assault against women and girls. They included being forced to undress in front of people or family members, and having objects inserted into their private parts. In most African cultures, the worst form of humiliation is for a mother to be forced to undress in front of her children. This is the extent to which these attackers went in order to lower the dignity of women and children. These barbaric acts were the way the Janjaweed militia and government soldiers were meting out revenge against dark-skinned civilians; they made the females who represented the mothers of the civilian militia group standing up against the government of Sudan also feel pain and humiliation.