Background: With on-going armed conflicts in several states, the devastating effects on the Sudanese population continue in several regions of the country. The escalation of violence against women in the past 30 years or more in Sudan can largely be attributed to governance system failures and the progressive disintegration of the rule of law, as the Sudanese legal system, consisting of statutory and customary law, has largely failed to introduce effective remedies to address sexual violence. Additionally the Sudanese legal system has been heavily based on militant Islamic interpretations.
Many women suffer discrimination, arbitrary arrests and humiliating punishments lashed out after loose interpretations of the so-called Public Order Articles contained in the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Act, the National Insecurity Act that allows for long detentions before allegations are laid against suspects. Participation in the promotion of human rights is especially fragile for women’s rights organizations due to the constant threats of closure, the ongoing conflict in Nuba and Darfur regions.
The level of criminalization of women by Sudanese legal institutions has seen a significant and worrying rise, with women in public spaces increasingly being perceived as problematic actors - their actions needing to be controlled and disciplined in line with the specific ideology of the ruling institution, which are principally based on militant interpretations of Islam.
Our work in Sudan:
Reducing Violence against Women and Girls
SIHA focuses on addressing the deeply rooted subordination of women, their alienation and marginalization based on an intersection between militant interpretations of religion and patriarchal culture all combined with current conflicts and cultural/ tribal disintegration, and the gradual escalation of sexual violence; SIHA project “Non-aligned spaces” is aimed at increasing the capacity and raising the awareness of youth on issues of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, and peaceful coexistence. These youth members will move on to be mediators and facilitate a dialogue with other youth from their communities.
Extending hands to the Women and girls in Darfur region
SIHA was one of the first organizations to work on GBV, protection and response in Darfur. Although the resources we continued to receive until the present times were relatively limited in comparison to other international and some of the national NGOs, SIHA managed to sustain its work and to gain the trust of the local community, while undertaking a unique mandate in terms of focusing on women and girls in an extremely complex situation.
One of our core interventions is supporting displaced women and girls. SIHA firmly believes that education and skills development of women and girls lies at the heart of achieving key human and women’s rights goals, and thus focuses across the region on implementing educational and awareness activities. The Darfur programme is in line with SIHA’s mandate and viewed as an essential step towards improving access to education as well as combating Sexual violence in the area.
Furthermore “Towards Restoring the Human Rights of Women Detainees and Prisoners in Sudan” is a SIHA project, aimed at assisting imprisoned women who are criminalized and detained. Through the help of a network of lawyers who connect with SIHA, through previous projects and activities. SIHA arranges to provide legal aid and help advocate for their injustice cases. Research on the conditions of these women who face imprisonment will be published soon.
Improving women access to sexual and reproductive health services
This project aimed at creating a network for all entities that are actively working on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) on a regional scale. Bringing all different governmental and civil society institutions together, to communicate and collaborate.
Empowering women economically towards realization of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)
This project aimed at empowering women and training them to work in sectors that are dominated by men. A number of women have been selected to undertake training and to provide them with work opportunities upon the end of their training period. This is meant to provide women with more options in the market, rather than the traditional/stereotypical trades that women are expected to be in.
Building inclusive women’s movements
SIHA established Circles of knowledge that are aimed at addressing human rights and gender equality, with tools from within the Islamic religion traditions. In order to effectively build a platform from which to engage in efforts to challenge militant Islam, subsequently creating the space and strategies necessary to challenge exclusion and conflict created as a direct result of the spreading militant Islamic ideology.
“Negotiating Patriarchy: Men as allies against violence against women”: This newly released SIHA publication was developed primarily as a guide for social activists involved in challenging gender inequality in the Horn of Africa. This 36-page guide promotes connecting with men as an essential approach towards addressing violence against women and emphasizes the importance of their involvement.
“Kasr Alsmt” “breaking the silence”: shows what happens when women are given a voice and literacy classes, sharing their experience of violence conducted against them.
“Agawed”: This is a manual instructing paralegals on conflict resolution
“Beyond Trousers” maps the experiences of women with the application of the Public Order Laws in Sudan, which prevents them from executing their economic, political and human rights.
“Third Class Citizens” presents insights on Sudan’s international regional and human rights commitments juxtaposed against the existing domestic legislations and how these impact on the equal citizenship of women in the country.
“Women in the Horn of Africa Are Still Bending their Heads”, is a report to the 52nd Session of the ACHPR focusing on Sudan and Somalia and the human rights abuses caused by conflict and Islamic militancy.
“If the tree shakes” A booklet of drawings, proverbs and memorable messages in local Arabic language that helps girls and women to protect themselves from the daily harassment, rape and physical violence during looting, which they are exposed to in IDP or refugee camps.
“Conflict transformation and social peace in post conflict era” Developed with local groups from Blue Nile, White Nile, Red Sea and Bahr El Ghazal regions in the two Sudans, the manual draws from communities’ techniques and perceptions to prevention, and shares their local strategies for social peace.
A Guide on Community Activism: SUDAN - Reinforcing Community Activism and Intergenerational Bridges for Women’s Rights and Equality.
“Gender under Bombardment” – Gender Disparities in SPLM/A-North Controlled Areas of Nubai Mountains, Southern Kordofan, The Sudan Consortium – African and International Civil Society Action for Sudan.