In 1991, Sudan's Islamist regime expanded the circumstances under which abortions are permitted within 90 days of conception to include rape. This reform has received great attention, especially given the rampant rape that occurred during the violent conflict in Darfur. Rape victims have been unable to take full advantage of this law, however, since a victim must overcome serious legal and practical hurdles in order to access an abortion. This became even more difficult after the International Criminal Court's 2009 indictment of President Bashir because Sudan expelled many of the humanitarian organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières,that were providing vital medical treatment after rape. The expulsions has caused a reduction in sexual violence protection programs, including the closing of medical centers and denying women the right to post rape medical care. Victims of rape in war struck Darfur often end up with an unwanted child and the lifelong stigma that entails or seek an illegal and unsafe abortion risking life threatening health complications.

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher