Sudanese Women Raise Their Concerns; New Government Must End Violence Against Them

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Photo credits: Creative Commons/D-Stanley



In the Sudan, political stability has reached a threshold as it pertains to the level of transition the national government has achieved after the April 2019 ouster of Omar Al-Bashir, the country’s former president.

In the immediate aftermath of the coup, which overthrew Al-Bashir, Khartoum’s government was controlled by the Transitional Military Council (TMC). However, the TMC’s autocratic rule by way of force led to further instability in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. There was also violent bloodshed committed in other northern Sudanese cities surrounding the TMC’s headquarters in the capital.

Hundreds of men, women, and children were killed in summer 2019. For women, in particular, the carnage delivered at the hands of the TMC was exceedingly brutal. A division of the TMC called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was often dispatched by the TMC to crush political protests. Sudanese women have played a major role in the planning and execution of peaceful protests.

A Sudanese woman nicknamed “Nubian Queen” went viral for a picture taken of her during a very strong and peaceful rally, which helped oust Al-Bashir.

However, the TMC appointed Mohamed “Hemetti” Daglo to be commander of the RSF not long after Al-Bashir’s ouster. This move caused a lot of fear in the women of the peaceful Sudanese protest movement. The RSF were known for committing wanton acts of cruelty against women. This group is really the Janjaweed militia from Sudan’s large western Darfur province.

During Sudan’s Second Civil War, Hemetti and his Janjaweed killers and thugs wreaked havoc in Darfur. Family men were robbed and burned alive. Their sons were shot and killed instantly. Wives and daughters in Darfur’s villages everywhere were gruesomely raped in mass with impunity. Though Al-Bashir has yet to face justice for his ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur, women are still letting their voices be heard.

Women like Halima Abdalla and Suleima Sharif are sharing the stories of savagery experienced by Sudanese women who lived through Al-Bashir’s 30-year reign of terror. Sharif chairs a government board, which advocates the ending of violence against women in Sudan. In her view, female oppression under the guise of bad laws crafted by radical Islamist legislators is what exacerbates the plague.

“We have a lot of systemic violence against women aimed at limiting their participation in political and social life. We have laws that encourage violence against women…law enforcers commit violence against women and not criminals,” Sharif said in a recent interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Abdalla is a master’s-level college graduate who studied gender relations. In her recent interview with AFP, she relived the horror she experienced during Al-Bashir’s rule. She was sentenced by a Sudanese judge to 100 hard lashes with a whip for drinking alcohol.

She actually got more than 100 lashes because several times, the male judge asked his female bailiff to whip Abdalla again when he could not hear the lashes. Abdalla told AFP about her horrifying ordeal of violence.

“The judge told me in court [that he represented God]. In my case, the judge was determined to see the [whipping],” Abdalla said.

In September 2019, Sudan’s TMC was replaced with a civilian-led Sovereignty Council, which will remain in power until Sudan’s next scheduled national election in 2022. Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s current Prime Minister, has vowed to pursue an agenda that strongly advocates against violence acts, which targets women.

As per Sudan’s transitional government agreement, Hemetti and other TMC leaders will be ineligible to campaign for national leadership on the political spectrum. However, in addition to that, justice must be imposed against Hemetti and criminals like him in order for legitimacy to stand.

For these individuals deserve a far more brutal punishment than the sentence that was unjustly delivered to Halima Abdalla.