SIHA: The Courageous Women of Sudan Continue to Stand Alone against the Scourge of Sexual Violence

(23 July 2019) Hundreds of Sudanese women across the country from Kordufan to Gadarif, and Port Sudan in Eastern Sudan and Atbra and greater Khartoum came out in hundreds to protest the high prevalence of sexual violence and acts of rape that took place against women, men and children during the brutal mass crime that was committed against peaceful civilians during the Khartoum massacre on June 3rd 2019.

The Sudan Doctors’ Committee documented 70 cases of rape. Additionally, more cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment that took place in the aftermath of the massacre continue to be documented by women’s rights and civil society organizations. To date, female students and workers, women traders and street vendors continue to report incidents of aggressive sexual harassment including grabbing and use of demeaning sexist and insulting language on the streets of Khartoum and other cities of Sudan by the RSF and Bashir /militant Islamists regime soldiers.

The sustained sexual harassment/ violence and intimidation of women as they walk the streets of Greater Khartoum on their way to work, schools or the market, can be understood as a response to, and direct attack on, the key role women have played throughout the protests that have been ongoing since December last year. The intimidation directed at women is clearly an attempt to reverse the gains they made in the occupation of public space despite the discriminatory laws and policies imposed by Bashir’s regime.

On June 30th, millions of Sudanese across the country from all walks of life came out to further assert their demands for a civilian and democratic government. There were thousands of women protesters. However, once again they were met with extreme violence from the RSF and former Bashir forces who fired live ammunition, killing at least 15 people and injuring many more across the country.

Women, girls and children report that they feel threatened to walk home from work or school because of the consistent harassment and grabbing by soldiers. Men who have attempted to aid some of the women themselves have also been subject to beating and have been shot at with live bullets, leading to death or serious injuries.

Despite the “broad” declaration, Sudan’s civilians and women continue to live under direct threats of the armed militia, whilst the rule of law and legal institutions continue to be paralyzed and sidelined.

  • SIHA therefore asserts that Sudan is in the midst of a political crisis and the declaration /agreement needs to spell out clearly how it will be represented by, and be accountable to marginalized groups and women. 
  • The yet to be established Joint Sovereign Council and Cabinet of Ministers must be responsible for ending hostilities, enforcing rule of law, and ensuring accountability and justice representing the legitimate demands of Sudanese men and women.
  • Sudan Freedom and Change forces and the upcoming civilian government must acknowledge sexual violence as a crime, and address accountability and justice for sexual violence survivors and those who were killed. Sudanese women stress the urgent need for an independent investigation, where the Sudanese people should play an instrumental role.