Violence against women is a phenomenon that is found in all parts of the world, particularly areas affected by war and armed conflicts; matter, which increases the number of displaced people and refugees. The phenomenon is usually accompanied by a negative social behavior amid vulnerable categories such as women and children. What has happened in Darfur is not an exception to what is going on in the whole world. However, western circles reviewed the conditions in a tarnished way that contradicts the noble values of the Sudanese society.
Hereunder SUNA reviews the reality of women conditions in Darfur States.
Darfur lies on the far west of Sudan, whereas it area is estimated at around 196404 square miles. The region includes over 80 tribes of Arab-African origins.
The region shares borders with Libya, the Republic of Chad, and the Central African Republic.
There are no natural barriers between the region and its bordering states as there is a social, cultural, and economic bond between the Darfurians and the nationals of these border countries.
There are three major groups living in Darfur. These groups are represented in settled tribes, non-Arab nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes, and nomadic tribes of Arab origins.
There also 14 living languages in Darfur, whereas the diversity of the natural environment and climate has reflected in the diversity of the region’s economic activity.
Agriculture and grazing remain the two major professions of Darfur population; this is in addition to trading, which has developed through the borders.
However, the Darfur conflict, which broke out in 2003, posed negative effect on fields of education, health, and economy.
The government has worked seriously to stop the war and prevent its negative impact, whereas the government efforts were culminated by the signing of Abuja Peace Agreement in May 2006.
Women Rights in Sudan:
Due to the wide spread of education, the Sudanese woman assumed the highest posts in the country, ventured the public work and became a figure in the public service.
The Sudanese woman has also actively contributed to the Gross National Product (GNP).
The first participation for a Sudanese woman in the executive authority was in 1973, when a woman was appointed a minister.
According to 1983 statistics, women constitute %49 of Sudan’s total population.
The woman also represents 22, 5% of the labor force in the official sector, while 89% of the women are economically active working in the agricultural sector, and 4% in the industrial sector.
According to statistics of 1996, the women working in ministries have increased, amounting to 68, 4% in the public service sector.
Women involvement in the political work dates back to the last century when women education pioneers at schools ventured this field, where women societies were formed. These women societies became active in the face of political colonialism during the 1940s of last century.
During the 1950s, the Sudanese woman participated in the political work through the new political parties, whereas in 1965, the Sudanese educated woman was given the right to vote. Later, all women were given the right to vote equally as men. The Sudanese woman has also been given the right to candidate for presidency.
Since the independence, the representation of women in the parliament has increased from %0, 6 in the constituent assembly in 1956 to %25 in the present as stipulated by the constitution.
The first Sudanese woman who was represented in the parliament through the constituencies of the graduates was in 1065.
In 1978 the number of female parliamentarians increased to 17 and then jumped to 35 in 2001.
The Sudanese woman has actively participated in the elections and even outsmarted men in voting.
To this end, 96% of the women in all states of the country voted in the 2000 presidential and national assembly elections against %53, 3 for men.
The Sudanese woman has also participated in the national service through the Woman National Service Coordinating Office, which was established in 1999.
Additionally, and to enhance the pioneering social role of women, women civil organizations have been established in all parts of the country to total 700 out of 1200 registered organizations.
The Sudanese woman also participated in the different federal institutions, matter, which has an obvious effect in enhancing the position of woman and achieving her further gains, whereas new articles have been introduced in the federal work statute committing any general union to involve the women.
There is no doubt that presence of women in the federal organ enables her maintain her rights and protect the gains of the workingwomen.
In the meantime, all constitutions of the country since the independence have granted the women their full rights, matter, which paved the way before her to participate in decision-making without any legal barriers at the federal and state levels.
To this end, Mrs. Agenis Lukodu assumed the post of a state Wali (Governor) in 3001, while the number of women ministers increased from one in the 1970s and 1980s to 15 in 2002.
The Sudanese woman participated in the public service even before the independence, whereas she worked in the field of education.
The number of the women working in the federal ministries amounted to 14558 during the period 1994-2004.
In 1965, Ustaza Ihasan Mohamed Fakhry was appointed a judge as the first woman to assume this post.
In 1970, the first woman legal judge was appointed and then their assimilation in the judiciary continued till they reached 104 in 2002, for the successive Sudanese constitution and their regulating laws, The last of which the Sudanese Judicial Authority Law, have not set gender as a term for assuming the post of judge.
Since 1995, women are assuming the post of higher court judge, and presently there are seven higher court women judges.
The Sudanese woman has also ventured the field of armed forces and the police forces and has actively contributed to in this respect, where she has climbed in ranks till she became Major General and General in the armed forces.
Statistics of the armed forces show that 3 women are at the rank of Brigadier, 11 colonels, Lieutenant Colonel, 24 raid, 24 sergeants, and 12 Lieutenant.
In the police forces, the statistics show that one woman is at the rank of Major General, 3 colonels, 22 Lieutenant Colonel 36 Major, 67 Captains and 93
There are also 495 women officers at the Custom police, 2 in civil defense police, 4 in the Wildlife Protection police, 6 at the Prison police, totaling 729 women police officers.
The woman in national conventions
Women rights in the constitution: a
Sudan constitution grants the woman her full civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. In fact women equally enjoy the rights granted for man including the right in education, the right in work, the right of voting, the right to form association, while she is committed to what man is committed to.
Article “22” of the rights charter in the interim 2005 constitution stipulates the following: -
The State shall grant equal right for men and women in enjoying all civil, political, social, cultural, and economic rights including the right in equal wage for the equal work and other job privileges.
The State shall enhance the rights of women through positive discrimination.
The State shall work to combat harmful traditions and costumes, which degrade the dignity and status of the woman.
The State shall provide health for maternity and children and pregnant women.
The State shall protect the child rights as mentioned in the regional and international conventions endorsed by Sudan.
Laws relating to women:
The personal Status Law for 1991, which admits the right of man and woman in establishing a family, with full voluntary consent of both parties.
The Labor Act for 1997, which streamlines with the international conventions concerned with time of employing women, and which prevents employing women in dangerous works that require greater physical effort or under ground or expose her to intoxication.
The Public Service Law for 1995.
Passports, immigration, and nationality law for 1994.
The Criminal Law for 1991, which stipulates protection of women against abusing her honor, money and reputation.
The Criminal Procedure Law, which contains specific measures to preserve the dignity of the woman and protect her honor, whereas its article “93” stipulates that if the person who is to be searched is a woman the person to perform the searching shall be a woman.
The woman in Abuja Agreement: b
Article (28) of Abuja Agreement on Human Rights and basicfreedoms states: -
(a) Women and men shall enjoy all civil and political rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as all economic, social, and cultural rights in the International Covenant ratified by the Government of the Sudan.
(b) Family is the basis of society and shall be protected by the law. Men and women shall enjoy the right to marry and found a family, in accordance with their respective family laws.
(c) The State shall combat harmful customs and traditions, which undermine the dignity and the status of women.
(d) The State shall provide maternity, child care, and medical care for pregnant women, children in need, persons with special needs and the elderly, in line with regional and international instruments ratified by the Government of the Sudan.
The agreement also stipulated establishment of Darfur Fund for Rehabilitation and Development. The fund is entrusted with establishing funding mechanisms to meet the special needs of women. These mechanisms, without details, provide investment opportunities, enhance production abilities, grant loans and build capacities for the benefit of women.
The agreement also provided displaced, men and women, equal rights in attaining the necessary documents and the documents shall be issued for the women and girls in their personal names and that orphans shall be provided special care and documents they need.
The woman in Darfur:
The woman in Darfur works side by side with the man in developing the state. The woman has actively contributed to all the economic, social, and political fields.
The Economic participation of women:
Women actively participate in managing the economy of the family and work to increase the agricultural production to upgrade family status. The woman in Darfur is known for making mats, fabric hats, and home clay utensils, whereas she proved competent.
Women’s political participation:
The Darfurian woman participated in all the political and intellectual sectors established for peace in Darfur, inside or outside Sudan.
The educated Darfurian women got involved in specialized civil and charitable organizations operating to upgrade women sectors socially and culturally, eradicate illiteracy, raise women awareness and build their capacity in leadership and decision making. Such organizations include:
DarfurOrganization for Peace and Development.
Kabkabia for Development.
Community Development Society.
Rural Development Society.
The People’s Authority for Developing Darfur.
The Darfurian women participation was not confined to civil and charitable organizations only, but they have actively participated in the political parties.
To this end, Chairman of the Sudanese Women’s General Union Ustaza Raja’ Hassan Khalifa says:
“The first Darfurian woman candidate for Jabel Mara and Zalenge constituencies was Zakia Abdul-Rahman.”
She added that the Darfurian women have contributed to dissemination of education and raising the awareness among the women of the state.
However, some western circles and media organs have utilized the conflict in Darfur, with the focus on women, to instigate indignation, and the circulated claims about rape in Darfur is part of a media campaign to implement western agenda, whereas these western media circles neglected the violations against women, which take place in Iraq, Palestine and Guantanamu.