Throughout my journey through feminism, I have heard about many different countries and how feminist in that country are handling the situations that have been thrown at them. However, interestingly enough, I have never (to the best of my memory) heard about feminism in Sudan. My best friend is from Sudan so the fact that this was never something that I looked into, especially because of this blog, has baffled me. So, after a good bit of research, I was able to find out some pretty unfortunate information regarding the way women can be treated in Sudan. A lot of the information that I’ll be bringing up is pretty well known but there are a few things that I didn’t have the slightest clue about.
For starters, Sudanese laws are extremely extremely different from what we have here in the United States. For example, the “public order” laws regulate simple everyday activities such as how women dress, covering their hair, and public transport. However, these laws govern women’s rights and bodies to an even greater extent as well. Sudan legalizes child, early, and forced marriage- giving the father the right to marry off his daughter at the age of 10. Studies have shown that one in three Sudanese women are married before the age of 18.
Now, you’re probably thinking that that is pretty cruel and messed up- and you’re right- but you’re not the only one. Recently, Sudanese women have been standing up for themselves and protesting these laws. The most recent protest was on April 8th, 2021. Hundreds of women gathered at Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to protest against gender-based violence and restrictions against women in the country. Along with those demands, they also demanded stricter laws and consequences for those who harass, rape, or abuse women both inside and outside the home. The protestors were also calling for support, services, and aid for victims of sexual abuse and violence. A poster titled “our demands” was shared around Sudans twitter that listed various other requests from the government.
While I have not been able to find out about whether there was a military presence at the protest and if they intervened or not, there’s still enough information about that topic to discuss. Over the past year, military forces have been violently cracking down on civil protests, killing more than 100 people and injuring over 500 in just one protest this past June alone. Protestors have been beaten, burned, gang-raped, killed, and even disfigured and thrown into the Nile river. Unfortunately, these are only the documented cases so the numbers are actually much greater in reality. From the information we do have, women have accounted for around 70% of street protestors, fighting for their rights; which also means that they take up a big percentage of those killed and injured during protests. The military government has brutally targeted female protesters. Rape and sexual violence have become explicit government tactics. A top military official directed officers: “Break the girls, because if you break the girls, you break the men.” This is obviously extremely unjust and needs to be stopped. If you’re interested, below is a list taken from Global Fund For Women on ways to support this cause.
How to support:
We asked activists on the ground how those outside of Sudan can help:
- Put pressure on the US administration and Congress to use every possible legal and peaceful means to remove the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and replace it with a civilian government.
- Put pressure on the EU and all European governments to join the efforts to stop the violence in Sudan and bring the perpetrators to justice.
- Call on the African Union to set up a commission of inquiry of human rights violations.
- Support the UN passing a resolution against the Transitional Military Council and forming an independent committee for investigation into human rights abuses.