Sudan Uprising : Let us not forget the women
Women have been playing a pivotal role in protests in Sudan by demanding women’s equality as a key issue.
With the welcome announcement on Thursday that President Bashir has finally stepped down and consultations to form a transitional council to run the country are underway, it is crucial that women in Sudan are given a seat at the table and reform of women’s rights are central to the creation of a new and more equitable system. This is not only because of the pivotal role women have played in bringing change, but because women and girls in Sudan have been on the receiving end of gender discrimination and civil rights violations for decades and now is the time to close that chapter.
For the past four months, the Sudanese people have been rising up in unprecedented numbers against President Omar al-Bashir government, demonstrating peacefully for regime change after 30 years of autocratic rule. Women in Sudan have been in the lead of these protests, spearheading dissent at great personal risk to call for greater civil rights and an end to pervasive gender discrimination.
We have been advised by contacts in the country that in the lead up to President’s Bashir’s exit,there were numerous cases of sexual harassment of women by law enforcement agencies with at least 11 rapes being reported as having happened in the context of the demonstrations. It appears that women and women rights activists were deliberately targeted, detained and arrested during this period.
We are calling upon the new transitional government to :
- Respect and fulfil Sudan’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which it is a party and which calls for civil and political freedom of its citizens.
- Ensure that the rights of women and girls are at the heart of the new administration in response to the many women and girls who demonstrated for change at great cost to themselves in some cases paying the ultimate price.
- Immediately release women’s rights activists who have been detained.
- In addition they must take action against those who have committed sexual assault against women during this period of protests.