In April-July this year, as civil war raged in the world’s youngest nation South Sudan, reports began trickling that atrocities were being committed by government soldiers and their allied militias in the northern Unity State. Aid agencies produced alarming reports of attacks that shared the common feature of women being raped, often by more than one armed man.
Tristan McConnell, an AFP correspondent based in Nairobi who has been visiting South Sudan for a decade, went to Unity to investigate. Dozens of interviews produced what appeared to be a clear pattern of abuse – women were abducted, kept tied up and under guard and at night raped repeatedly, often by groups of men.
It appeared systematic, organised and planned. “Rape camps” seemed the only appropriate description.