then 12, tightly hugged his long, bony legs, as we sat on the parched
termite-infested earth. His ragged black shorts and ripped oversized
T-shirt hung loosely on his spindly, dust-covered body. A continuous
flow of tears poured down his face as he spoke of the way he was
repeatedly raped and sodomized by gangs of government soldiers.
raped me, Majok cried. And when I tried to refuse,
they beat me.
taking care of his masters cattle all day, Majok said he
was often raped at night. He told me that his rapes were very
painful and he would rarely get a full nights sleep.
also spoke about the other slave boys he saw who suffered his
same fate. I saw with my eyes other boys get raped,
Majok said. He [the master] went to collect the other boys
and took them to that special place. I saw them get raped.
another adolescent, had multiple scars on his arms and legs that
he said came from the numerous bamboo beatings he received while
in captivity. He told me he saw three slaves killed and one whose
arm was hacked off at the elbow because he tried to run away.
Yal also said he saw other boys raped by his master at his masters
the time they were raped they were crying the whole day,
Yal said. He then told me that he, too, was raped.
1989, Sudans extremist government, which is seated in the
North, has been waging war against its diverse populace. The battle
is over land, oil, power and religion, by a government that is
made up of some of Africas most aggressive Arab Islamists,
says Jesper Strudsholm, Africa correspondent for Politiken.
and Christian black Africans in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains
have paid a steep price for refusing to submit to the North. More
than two million have been killed as a result of the war, according
to the U.S. Committee for Refugees. Often trapped in the fray
are surviving victims the government soldiers capture as slaves.
rights and local tribal groups estimate the number enslaved ranges
from 14,000 to 200,000.
thousands remain enslaved in the North, since 2003 the genocide
and slave raiding in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains has been
suspended because of a ceasefire. Amnesty International, however,
reports that the government continues to attack black African
Muslims in Darfur, Western Sudan.
to Sudan expert, Eric Reeves, more than a thousand people are
dying every week in Darfur because of government attacks.
numbers are sure to rise, Reeves added.
also reports that surviving victims have been raped and abducted
by government soldiers during these raids. International law recognizes
both slavery and rape in the context of armed conflict as crimes
I questioned the former slaves, village leaders, my translators,
and many Sudanese immigrants living in the United States, it became
apparent that the tribal society in which Majok and the other
slaves were born has strict taboos about sex especially
male-to-male sex. I was told that although many villagers are
aware that young male slaves are raped while in captivity, it
isnt discussed because of the cultural prohibitions on all
forms of male-to-male sex including rape.
fact, male-to-male sex is considered such an egregious act in
South Sudan that if two males are found guilty of having consensual
sex with each other they are killed by a firing squad, according
to Aleu Akechak Jok, an appellate court judge for the South. If
a male is found guilty of raping a male or female, only the perpetrator
is shot to death, Jok said.
description of Southern Sudans punishment for consensual
male-to-male sex is not too different from Sharia law in Northern
Sudan, which imposes a death penalty on those found guilty of
leaders told me that male rape victims, who are able to escape
slavery in the North and return to their villages, often consign
themselves to a life filled with guilt, suffering silently and
affects their minds badly, Nhial Chan Nhial, a chief of
one of the villages in Gogrial County said angrily. When
they return to us, many of these boys have fits of crying, mental
problems, and are unable to marry later on in life.
worried about Majok and the other boys I had interviewed. These
boys were all adolescent and pre-adolescent ages. Many of them
told me that their violent experience of rape was their very first
introduction to sex.
captured, Ayiel, 14, said he was forced to watch the gang-rape
of his two sisters and says he too was raped numerous times. He
described his experience as very painful, and said
he never saw his sisters again after that incident.
the most graphic account of male rape was given by Aleek.
"I watched my master and four Murahaleen [soldiers] violently
gang-rape a young Dinka slave boy, Aleek said. The
boy was screaming and crying a lot. He was bleeding heavily, as
he was raped repeatedly. I watched his stomach expand with air
with each violent penetration. The boy kept screaming. I was very
frightened, and knew I was likely next. Suddenly the boy's screams
stopped as he went completely unconscious. My master took him
to the hospital. I never saw him again."
of the boys told me that in order to avoid rape some of the male
slaves tried to escape, but were quickly hunted down by their
captors. They said that the punishment for resisting rape is severe
beatings, limb amputation or death. Mohammed, a Bagarra nomad,
who has helped to free slaves, broke down in tears as he spoke.
they are doing in the North is against the Koran, he explained.
Allah says that no man should be a slave to another man,
but all should be a slave to Allah.
said that as a Muslim he was heartbroken the extremists have perverted
his religion into a political weapon to torture and oppress people.
I arrived in Sudan, Ngong one in a group of five former
female slaves that I interviewed told me that children
were raped while in captivity.
I saw with my eyes them raped, boys and girls, Ngong said.
I knew about the rape of slave girls, I did not know this could
also be happening to boys. I decided to investigate this further
when two females from the same group said they had seen slave
boys taken away at night to the special place for
I interviewed a total of 15 male slaves, for one to two hours
each. Six of the boys interviewed said they were raped and the
majority of these six said they were eyewitnesses to other boys
being raped. Most of these six boys said they were raped numerous
times, by more than one perpetrator. Some of the boys gave the
full names and the home towns of the men they said had raped them.
five in this group of 15 boys said they were not raped, they did
say they were either sexually harassed or were eyewitnesses to
other slave boys being raped. Only four of the 15 boys interviewed
said they were not raped or sexually harassed, and were not eyewitnesses
to the rape of other boys. All of the boys said they were never
sexually abused or raped prior to their enslavement.
rape of boy slaves is not unique to young Sudanese males, as recently
exposed in a CNN Presents documentary Easy Prey:
Inside the Child Sex Trade. Sadly, the ugly arm of slavery
reaches far beyond Sudan and shockingly touches every continent
except Antarctica. Slavery expert Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves
(FreeTheSlaves.net) says there are approximately 27 million slaves
worldwide. To date, however, there has been no comprehensive report
on how many male slaves have been traumatized by rape.
Sliwa, founder of Freedom Now News (FreeWorldNow.com),
lectures on slavery and is preparing for publication the interviews
she conducted on slave boy rape while in Sudan.