Case study 11 - Achai (Sudan, 1999)

Wartime enslavement

It has been common in wars over the centuries for prisoners to be taken and used as slave labour. This has happened both to soldiers and civilians. In the recent civil war in Sudan many ordinary people have been affected, especially young women.

Achai (Sudan 1999)

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Soldiers came to Achai's home. She heard their guns and, like her neighbours, tried to run away. She ran to the forest but was caught by two soldiers who made her walk for 10 days with a sack of sorghum on her head.

Achai's story

I was together with a lot of other girls. The soldiers would take them away for sexual intercourse. The leader of the soldiers, Musa, did this to me, and kept me for himself. I had to stay at his home at the army camp. It was a place where soldiers marched and learned how to prepare their guns and to shoot.

I had to do housework for Musa. I could not leave the camp. Each day he would say that he would shoot me or cut my throat if I tried to escape. I was very sad, and couldn't help crying. He would beat me when he caught me crying. Musa used me as a concubine [a second "wife" but without being married]. I am now about five months pregnant. Musa let me go away with a trader. I think he did this because I was so sad and tearful that he didn't want me any more.

Questions and discussion points

  • What do you think Achai felt about Musa?
  • What would you have done in Achai's situation?
  • Did it make a difference that she was held at an army camp?
  • What were the worst things about her life with Musa?
  • What would you want to say to Achai?

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