In the span of the 16 days of activism on violence against women, I would like to appeal to you all to join Darfur Women Action Group to stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur and particularly women who have been through unimaginable suffering for 10 years. Educating the public and the policy makers about the current situation on the ground and the challenges that women are particularly facing, raise your voice to demand effective action from the international community to stop the violence, protect women, men and the children of Darfur and to hold the perpetrators accountable.
As of today, genocide has been going on for 10 years in Darfur. Rape has been and is still being used as a weapon of war and women remain the most affected, enduring unimaginable pain.
Stories of women being raped are constant, first when they attack the villages while they are fleeing their homes then while living in the internally displace camps and refugees camps. Darfuri refugee women continue to be vulnerable to attacks by varies actors, including Chadian solders.
Suffering for Darfuri women is doubled or tripled in most cases because of the fact that during the attacks, the janjaweed and the government army target men and boys, who are the sons and the husbands for killing then singling women out for rape that further exacerbate their suffering. .
As described by Hawa Mahamad, a mother of 6 who has survived the Arwalla Massacre and is currently living in Houston TX. “I have suffered the worst but the personal assault was less on me than witnessing 7 members of my family who were coming to my rescue being killed one after another, and the destruction of the entire village where I grew up and had a lot for me to be proud of and connected to; and further the killing of over 1000 people in one day that I have witness and continued to see it every day in my nightmares as if it happened just today”.
Do you know that there are still over 3 million people who have been forced out of their homes, and still living as refugees or IDPs, and the overwhelming majority of the populations in the camps are women and children? Can you all imagine with me how much physical and psychological pain each of these human beings has to live with? It’s a nightmare in itself.
Since 2009, the governmement of Sudan has expelled the most viable international NGOs who were not only providing adequate relief services to the needy but they were implementing programs that were very vital to the protection and survival of women. With those NGO’s completely shut down, women are left vulnerable, not only to the repeated attacks but to suffer the physical and the psychological harm and the social stigma with nowhere to turn for treatment or justice. Instead, the government has a allowed few NGOs with less capacity and later has extremely restricted their movement which has limited their access to the majority of those in need.
The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur UNAMID is a shameful example of the UN failure, not only to protect the people of Darfur that they are there to protect but they can’t even protect themselves, as they are constantly attacked. They have not only failed to provide protection but they fail to adequately monitor the situation on the ground , verify incidents or present adequate reports. There hasn’t been systematic reporting coming out about rape or sexual violence against women and in most cases there has been a concern from our people on the ground that whatever reports are coming out, are either downplaying the numbers or overlooked the coverage of all the incidents and lack a proper reporting on violence against women that occurs every single day. UNAMID mission’s movement is completely restricted by the government of Sudan and the UN has been passive in holding the government of Sudan accountable for restricting UNAMID access .We therefore call on you to raise your voice with us to demand that the international community stop neglecting Darfur and neglecting the plight of women. These are the people who of course have voices but their voices have been oppressed and silenced. So its morally imperative that we speak up for them and give them a voice to speak for themselves.
Please join us in our series of blogs to take you with us to learn about some examples of the situations that our sisters in Darfur and Sudan continue to suffer and in most cases the world has decided to look the other way. If the world has accepted to do so, we will not and that is why we need your solidarity more than ever before to stand with us to make our voices louder.