The Sudan Democracy First Group is an umbrella group of leading Sudanese independent and democratic civil society sectors. It aims to promote the voices and interests of marginalised groups, as well as peace and human rights. Below is its International Women's Day statement released on March 8.
* * *
On the 8th March this year, we at Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) celebrate International Women's Day. We mark the struggle of Sudanese women for peace, equality, justice and democratic change, and the continuous efforts by civil society groups to advocate for gender justice and equity within society.
Sudanese women and girls continue to suffer from the regime's discriminate bombing and fighting in Darfur, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Hundred of thousands of women and girls are forced to flee their homes under difficult circumstances; looking for refuge in camps in Chad, South Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as in Sudan under threatening security and living conditions.
Sudanese women in Darfur, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile continue to be targeted, as the regime forces and paramilitias continue to subject them to systematic violence, including sexual violence and mass rape. This takes place under government protection and impunity, that not only prevents accountability but further encourages the continuation and spread of such violations.
Women in Sudan today continue to face enormous difficulties and challenges for an equal and dignified citizenship and meaningful participation in public life. The state's policies and practices downgrade women and prevent Sudanese society from reaching the potentials of inclusive and equal participation of women. Its systematic oppression and violence against women reaches across the country and all aspects of life.
Security services continue to target female activists and subject them to violence, including sexual assaults. Legal frameworks set another layer for suppressing and controlling women's freedoms and rights; decreasing women's mobility, educational and employment and opportunities. Women continue to be convicted and punished under the criminal and public order laws. Every year around 50,000 women across the country are subjected to lashings by the Public Order Police alone. These police target women working in the informal sector to provide livelihoods for their families under difficult circumstances including impoverishing economic policies and war.
Sudan Democracy First Group calls upon all democratic forces, regional and international actors to give the utmost priority to putting an end to the crimes against Sudanese women, particularly in the conflict zones, and prioritise bringing perpetrators to justice. The world should not continue turning a blind eye to such crimes.