SIHA Film screening “Men as Allies” in Khartoum

On 22nd June 2016, the French Embassy in Khartoum in collaboration with SIHA Network organized a film-screening of the SIHA short documentary “Men as Allies”. Participants of the SIHA Project and protagonists of the documentary were present in addition to around 20 people from different segments of society. Following the film-screening, an open debate took place, and questions were posed to the participants, their involvement in the project and the documentary and what consequently shifted in regard to their attitudes, mind-sets, concepts and habits both personally and more broadly, towards violence against women.

The students and participants of the project and documentary gave insight into their achievements following the project, such as activities for the 16 Days of Activism campaign and other events. Further all groups established mechanism through which they aim at raising awareness and critical approaching to the subjects of FGM, harassment of women, the consequences the Public Order Act has on women and how the Public Order Acts is used to justify the institutional violence directed towards women.

Others have created a magazine in which different contributors reflect and present their opinions around the issue of violence against women. It has been widely distributed among students and around the campus. One of the participants explained, that the events series had a visibly impact on the students who attended their events, and that they can see a change in the mind-sets of many.

They agreed that the experiences gained through the project, opened their eyes towards the failure of policies in the country which aim at segregating men. Their realization, that society can only be fully functioning when both women and men enjoy equal rights, opposing ideologies of subjugation and the fact that this subsequently leads to an increase in violence against women. The established a vision to actively oppose practices and policies, legitimizing violence against women in the university across multiple cultural and political platforms of discussion. They also talked about the prevailing, religious discourse, which is tying and restricting women down and leads to violence against them.

Another outcome was the formation of regular discussion groups, where they raise issues of violence against women and develop advocacy strategies for those who are particularly marginalized, especially the cases of women in the informal sector, such as tea and alcohol sellers. The group is further assisting those who are arrested by the Public Order Regime to raise legal fees.

Following the speeches by the participants a significant debate among the audience fired about politics, Islam and militant ideologies. The audience discussed about the role of the man in the seventies who represented the religious extremism in the documentary, as a sign of evidence of the high rate of extremism in the older generation. But the participants stressed that the younger generation is more vulnerable. In the past there were less constrains on women, the regulation on dress code within universities and formal institutions was not that restricted, because of the political changes that have occurred in Sudan, political Islam and radical religious discourse all that led to the practice of violence on women, harassment leading to its current scope.