Un Women’s Generation Equality Forum

In light of UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum, Darfur Women Action Group is sharing how Darfuri women are answering to the devastating inequalities they face. Though an afterthought to most governments, gender inequality has bled into the world of genocide, making women significantly more vulnerable to violence, specifically sexual violence, than men. The women of Darfur are meeting this challenge with strength. 

To hear more voices from Darfur, read the stories below. They have been collected by Darfur Women Action Group as a way to raise awareness to the situation of women and girls in Darfur. They do not only show the horror of the mass atrocities in Darfur, but also the courage and resilience that these individuals have demonstrated in the face of the longest genocide in history. 

Between Unspeakable Suffering and Outstanding Resilience

My name is Hawa Mohamed and I lived in a beautiful village in Darfur surrounded by tall acacia trees. Towards the west, there was a green valley named Azum that provided us with mango, guavas, oranges, and beautiful gardens for six months during the rainy season. Toward the east, there were sugarcane farms. I considered everyone in my village to be rich. Through hard work, they cultivated all types of grains, vegetables, and fruits. They also raised goats, sheep, and cows. Most people had what they needed to survive and only went to the market to buy clothes, soap, and sugar. Everyone was very friendly and supportive. If you needed help building a house, the community would come together and finish the house in one day. Life was beautiful and I was very happy.

It Was The Happiest Moment, and I Will Never Have it Back

My name is Aisha Khalil and I am currently living in an internally displaced person (IDP) camp in central Darfur. I am here because my life changed in July 2003, when I was only 10 years old. It was a beautiful sunny day in my village. It was a market day, which was always the best day of the week because my mom, dad, and grandmother would purchase all sorts of fruits and snacks for my siblings and me. In the evening, we gathered outside as they distributed our gifts. Grandmother told us stories under the moonlight and pointed out this one star that was higher than usual. She said it was a sign that it wasn’t going to rain much this year. We all laughed and asked how she knew such things. It was the happiest moment, and I will never have it back.

I Went to Jail Because I am Not Afraid to Stand Up for Rape Victims

My name is Fatima Gazali. I was born in Kurdufan, an area in Western Sudan. My family is from Darfur and still live there, so I consider myself to be a Darfuri as well. As a child, I used to enjoy watching movies on television, particularly the ones that had female characters that were journalists. They seemed so empowered and independent – everything that I wanted to become someday. As a teenager, I began imitating those characters by writing for school magazines and newspapers. I eventually went to college to study journalism. In 2001, I graduated and started working for a local newspaper in the capital of Sudan.

Lost and Helpless At a Camp In Chad

My name is Amani E. and I am a refugee from Darfur currently living in the Cary Yary Refugee camp in eastern Chad. I was born in Amboro village, in north Darfur, and I used to work as an elementary school teacher. I loved my job. Now I am a widow, and I raise two beautiful daughters who have lost their dad.

Al-Bashir’s “Trial” & the Theatrics of the TMC

photo: SUNA
photo: SUNA

On Saturday,  Sudan’s chief prosecutor, Alwaleed Sayed Ahmed, announced charges of corruption against ex-President Omar al-Bashir. This action demonstrates the theatrical game the TMC is willing to engage in to distract attention from their own crimes.

It’s worth noting that Al-Bashir is not being tried for genocide–Al-Bashir is not being surrendered to the ICC. Al-Bashir, an internationally wanted war criminal, is being tried for corruption. In doing so, the TMC is not only attempting to display a sense of renewed accountability and state legitimacy but a display to rid al-Bashir of guilt. In sending the former president to court, the TMC is attempting to close the domestic criminal case of al-Bashir for good.

If Bashir is to be tried, it must be in the ICC for his 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including three counts of genocide for the ethnic cleansing of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes. This corruption trial by the TMC is a ploy to provide Bashir judicial cover. It will not work. Nations, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and India must stop promoting impunity and the international community should know better now what the cost of impunity can do to the people of Sudan.

Darfur Village Set Ablaze : 16 Years of Genocide

65c9bf0f-1625-4c85-a26f-25904cbc1a8aOn Monday evening, reports came in that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had commenced the burning of Delaige, a village located in Western Darfur. The Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) strongly condemns this egregious crime against humanity. DWAG is extremely concerned about the current surge of violence against civilians coupled with lack of access to communication and information. DWAG demands unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and that access to free and independent reporting be immediately provided. This attacks on Delaige camp is not an isolated incident. It’s a part of the systemic and orchestrated attacks against the indigenous Darfuris that has been carried out by Sudan government and the leaders of the current Sudan’s Transitional Military Council.

The RSF reportedly commenced the slaughter of those residing in Delaige on Sunday evening, killing six. By Monday afternoon, the Janjaweed had enclosed the village of Delaige, blocking escape and confining residents to indoors. At that time, the death toll was reported as 16 individuals.

A video surfaced this morning of the village in flames, suggesting a sharp escalation in violence. The RSF, with the motivation of forcibly ending civil disobedience, is committed to perpetrating more crimes against humanity to achieve their disingenuous goal.

It is extremely likely that the actual toll on lives lost is higher, but a blackout on communication, internet shutdown, and slaughter of dissidents has prevented verifiable reports truly encapsulating the massacre. On June 7, the United Nations issued a press release stating that the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) would look into, “the ‘rapid deployment’ of a monitoring team to look into allegations of serious rights violations.”

The Transitional Military Council leaders are equally responsible for the ongoing crimes committed in Darfur and the recent massacres. They will likely reject the advancement of the UN human rights monitoring team into Sudan, furthering an information blackout under which the TMC may commit more crimes against its own people. This attack has been systematically directed towards the same groups that have been targeted for years in genocide, and that have been forced to live in camps since 2003. The situation in Sudan is growingly volatile, given the ongoing crises and the vulnerability of civilians living in camps for years, this recent incident makes the situation ever so dire.

We strongly urge the United States government and the UNSC to take an effective action that will end the suffering in Darfur and bring lasting peace to Sudan. The U.S. must publicly condemn these attacks and pressure the Transitional Military Council for a timely transfer of authority to a civilian, democratic government.

With this dangerous development on the ground in Sudan and Darfur in particular, we must speak up and demand that world leaders take concerted action and hold the perpetrator of these heinous crimes accountable. In the coming days, Darfur Women Action Group will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates and opportunities to take action. Please check us on Twitter, for updates of events on the ground as they become available.

Women and Genocide in the 21st Century: A Call for Action to End the Tragedy of Darfur

It’s far from over, and a durable resolution seems more distant with the recent escalated violence in my homeland.

Today the situation in Darfur for our people is extremely dire and dangerous. As of today, Darfur has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world. In Darfur, over 3 million people have been forced out of their homes and sent to suffer long or indefinite exiles without hope of return. Hundreds of thousands have been documented crossing the border to neighboring countries, and many more have crossed without being counted in official numbers.

Rape has been used as a weapon of war and distraction, and is committed repeatedly to further terrorize the defenseless. Furthermore, government-supported outsiders have taken our lands. Sadly, for several years the United Nations has successfully downplayed and stopped adding to its official figures the total number of people killed in Darfur as the result of Al-Bashir and its allies, the Janjaweed. For more than 3 years there have been no journalists allowed in Darfur and all means of communication have been curtailed. Humanitarian access has been severely restricted, and starvation is consistently used as an insidious weapon for killing. Aid organizations and their workers have been targeted and expelled, and in most cases, they walk out in silence, fearful of government retaliation against those who remain to assist the needy. The joint United Nations African Union mission in Darfur, UNAMID, has completely failed not only to protect the vulnerable IDPs but to protect its own members. The number of attacks against peacekeepers is rising and the number of their troops killed in Darfur increases daily.

Speaking with our families on the ground every day, we hear heartbreaking tales. Between January 2012 and today, attacks against civilians have dramatically escalated and the security situation is rapidly deteriorating. As an isolated example: between August 1st and the end of September this year, the scale of the attacks staged equaled the level of 2003-2004. Just this August, the first Kassab camp and its surrounding area was attacked, approximately 25,000 displaced persons have been forced to flee again, their homes were completely burned, tens of women, men and children were killed and hundreds more have gone missing. In late September Hashaba village, in the North, was attacked by both ground and aerial bombardment and over 100 civilians were reported dead. Unfortunately, the numbers reported were very conservative because of restriction of access. This is in addition to constant bombing in and around the areas of Jebel Marra and the complete blockade of aid access. Evidence showed that almost all of these attacks have again targeted the same tribes who have been systematically targeted for elimination since the beginning of the crisis. What else can you call this? It’s genocide. The crisis in our homeland is of global magnitude and it is imperative that we continue to bring it to the attention of the world community, remind them that if it’s not in the news that doesn’t mean it’s over and that Al-Bashir is never short of more orchestrated tactics to fool the international community.

The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against Al-Bashir alone and for three other suspects for crimes committed in Darfur. It’s increasingly clear that the world has compromised justice for the victims of genocide in Darfur in exchange for a nonexistent peace. That is why today our people in the regions of Numba Mountains, Blue Nile and Abyei are forced to join the people of Darfur in their misery, while their fate is left to be decided by their own murderers. Once again, women continue to bear the most suffering living in Darfur, South Kordofan or Blue Nile

Today, after ten years, the situation for women in Darfur remains tragic. Through 2010-2012 there has been a growing concern about widespread, systematic rape and sexual violence against women and girls. Just in 2 week ago , witnesses reported to Radio Dabanga that a three year old girl had been raped in Kass, South Darfur. Recent trends show that Darfuri women are being systematically targeted in other regions of Sudan, including the capital, Khartoum. There is, in fact, an increase in violence against female civil society leaders within Sudan at large. Female civil society leaders are continuously abused for raising their concerns about the repressive laws that restrict women’s freedoms and that allow impunity for security agents to abuse women under the Popular Discipline Act of the Sudanese security laws in the capital of Sudan.

Consequently, women activists and human rights defenders have been subject to arrest and derogatory treatment by the authorities of the oppressive government of Sudan. Last year, on International Women’s Day, women activists in Khartoum gathered peacefully to protest the rape of a Darfuri student by the regime’s security agents, demanding legal reforms of the repressive laws that legalized violence against women, such as flogging. Women were flogged or beaten in public because of their choice to wear pants, after which the government authorities arrested, beat, and interrogated over forty women.

Women represent about half of any nation’s talent and human resources, and even more so during times of war. In the midst of crises during which all resources are derailed and stretched to the limit, no society can afford to sideline those resources. In Darfur, Sudan, where rape is used and stilla weapon of war, women are extremely affected .They are still oppressed and have been forced to live in silence for ten years. As of today, women represent the overwhelming majority of the IDPs and refugees in Darfur and neighboring countries.

Darfur’s women, despite being long-suffering victims of war, have demonstrated an outstanding resilience, strength and resolve to combat genocide and keep hope alive in their communities. Nevertheless, the abilities of women have not yet been utilized effectively by actors and stakeholders working to bring peace to Darfur. Their real empowerment has not been prioritized. Unless women’s issues are brought to the forefront, a sustainable end to the crisis remains unattainable.

The sad reality is that ending the crises or attaining peace in Sudan is still very far off. This is particularly inarguable in Darfur, where women are gang raped on a daily basis, in and around the IDP camps, in villages and in cities, while their violators are treated with absolute impunity.

This reality demonstrates how crucial it is that DWAG exists. Our mission is to address these issues and work with partners and stakeholders to bring these important issues to the attention of advocates and policy makers who are concerned about women’s issues; as well as to integrate women’s issues into the broader genocide advocacy and its messaging, and to help develop strategies for women’s inclusion and meaningful empowerment at all levels. This is essential in order to effectively combat violence against women and prevent genocide in the future.

We have watched how the world community has failed the people of Sudan in Darfur and the other marginalized regions, and that is why we need to step up to our responsibility, to stay on the side of truth to do all that we can to make a difference even if it is one life at a time.

I called, and many of you have answered the call, for which I am so grateful. I am empowered by the fact that I am being joined by people from all walks of life, from California to New York and within our own DC area; by students, faith leaders and the advocacy movement. Some of the same leaders who have joined us in the past continue to carry on the mission. I will confidently say that despite the frustration and the longstanding suffering of our people in Sudan, with our collective effort, ending genocide is possible

I am humbled and strengthened by those who have joined me, people like my sister and dear friend in the fight, Maria Bello (click here to read her article of support), who has travelled from LA to be with us in DC to speak for the women of Darfur; Mark Kostabi, who flew from Italy to stand in solidarity with us by using his talents to bring attention to the plight of women, along with the distinguished speakers and the Sudanese musicians who have given their time and efforts in order to raise awareness. Those of you who have sent messages of support or joined us on Twitter or liked us on Facebook, your support invaluable and indeed you are making a difference. My fellow Sudanese from all regions of Sudan, who speak from their heart and committed to work together to build strategy for sustainable change in Sudan through the their collective effort, a strategy aspiring for a just and lasting peace for all the people of Sudan

Our recent symposium (Women and genocide in the 21st century) was the first ever symposium on women and genocide which have brought a lot of energy and galvanize the support of our members for which we are very grateful. With this kind of solidarity we will continue to fight against genocide until the world understands the magnitude of the genocide and its impact on men and women, and does something to end it sustainably.

To support our effort, please join us by visiting www.darfurwomenaction.org and don’t forget to add your email to our list serv on the top right of the website, thank you!

Speak up for the women of Darfur

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.

Sisters Of Sudan In Headlines

Throughout this past year, the women of Darfur have suffered a continuous onslaught of rape, assault and other forms of abuse. The sad truth is that after years of ongoing tragedy, the people of Sudan are still venerable to total impunity and a lack of accountability within the judicial system. While the following headlines can only scrape the surface of the events the people of Darfur have seen this year, they are a snapshot portraying some of the things women have faced.

During these 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women let us take a little time to review the year our sisters in Sudan have faced and dig in deeper to see that next year will, at the very least, see less horrific headlines.

In Solidarity!

Woman raped east of Zalingei

January 12, 2012… for treatment. The source complained that displaced women living in insecure camps regularly suffer from repeated attacks when … to stop the violence and rape of already vulnerable women. (armed men, rape, zalingei) … Full story

Nine women raped by Abu Tira forces

February 9, 2012… (rape, southern refugees, women) … Full story

Evening news 10 February

February 10, 2012… 9 of the rapewomen in Alleit Jarallenby by elements of the forces and supported local … 425 (9 of the rape women in Alleit Jarallenby by elements of the forces and supported local … Full story

Woman raped in front of son in South Darfur

March 7, 2012… (appeals, camps, darfur, international women’s day, rape) … Full story

Two women killed in armed robbery

March 21, 2012… (armed, killed, robbery, women) … Full story

Woman stoned to death for trying to protect daughter

March 25, 2012… (gunmen, rape, women) … Full story

Two women from Armenkol camp raped by militia

April 8, 2012 Sirba, Western Darfur … Full story

Women from camp Bear Dagig raped by gunmen

April 10, 2012 Sirba, Western Darfur … Full story

Women call for end to systematic rape in Darfur

April 16, 2012 (darfur, systematic rape, women) … Full story

8 displaced women raped in South Darfur, eastern Chad camps

April 19, 2012… (Dereig, eastern Chad, rape, women) … Full story

Three militants rape woman in El Geneina

May 29, 2012… El Geneina (El Geneina, gunmen, rape) … Full story

Two displaced women raped by armed militiamen outside Kassab camp

June 22, 2012… 2012-06-22 22:31 Two displaced women from Kassab camp, near Kutum in North Darfur, were raped on Wednesday by … from the camp told Radio Dabanga that three IDP women came out of the camp on Wednesday to fetch firewood. They were then … Full story

Three women raped close to IDP camp Kindibe, West Darfur

July 1, 2012… Sun, 2012-07-01 20:34 Three women were attacked by four armed men on Saturday morning in the valley Ardeba … of Sirba, West Darfur, a witness told Radio Dabanga. The women, from the IDP camp of Kindibe, were attacked and kidnapped by a group of … Full story

Horsemen kill man and rape three women in North Darfur

July 9, 2012… and camelback. The group of five men three women were fired on by the gunmen leaving Issa dead and leading to the rape of three women. The source said they informed the police in Kabkabiya but they failed to … Full story

UN Darfur mission fears revenge attack on Hamadiya Camp

July 11, 2012… Border Guards arrested nineteen (19), raped three (3) women and injured four (4) during an attack on a camp for displaced people in … Full story

Gunmen rape 8 women in West Darfur

July 17, 2012… 20:54 The men abducted the women after threatening them at gunpoint and took them to one of the … Full story

Evening news 18 July

July 18, 2012… 19:30 Gunmen rape 8 women in West Darfur Wed, … Full story

More than 20 women and girls raped at Kassab camp

August 22, 2012… looting, North Darfur, President of the Federation of Women, pro-government militia, rape) … Full story

Two abducted women from Mornei released

August 27, 2012… (abducted women released, gunmen on horses, Mornei IDP camp, two women abducted) … Full story

Kassab camp resident raped

September 3, 2012… 21:02 (four displaced women attacked while collecting wood, Kassab Camp, rape) … Full story

Kutum area: 4 women raped and 4 injured

September 12, 2012… (Abu Tira, Adam Saleh Abaker, assault, displaced women, Kassab, Kutum, rape, SLM, SRF, UNAMID) … Full story

Gunmen rape 15 year old girl

September 23, 2012… (15 year old girl, four displaced women attacked while collecting wood, four women attacked, pro-government militia, rape, Zalingei rape) … Full story

Daily gunmen assaults in Bilel

October 2, 2012… east of Nyala, gunmen, gunmen on camels and horses, women targeted) … Full story

Attacks against women rise in Hamidiya

October 5, 2012… (attacks against women rise in hamidiya, rape) … Full story

Two women raped in East Jebel Marra

October 5, 2012… (government troops, pro-government militia, water well, women raped in east jebel marra) … Full story

Two women raped in El Geneina

October 13, 2011… Eight women raped by armed militia Four women narrowly escape rape in Mershing, S. Dafur … Full story

CRF element rapes 3-year-old girl

October 14, 2012… Sun, 2012-10-14 23:24 (3 year old girl raped, Abu Tira, Abu Tira element, armed gunmen, CRF, rape, young girl raped) … Full story

Armed group rapes two women

October 31, 2012… Wed, 2012-10-31 23:54 (2 women raped, increase in rape cases, militants rape women, Saraf Omra, wood collecting) … Full story

Pro-government gunmen ambush women in Mershing

November 7, 2012… (attempt to rape, four displaced women attacked while collecting wood, women ambushed by pro-government gunmen in Mershing) … Full story

Women questioned for supporting SPLM-N

November 12, 2012… Tue, 2012-11-13 01:50 (Women questioned for supporting SPLM-N) … Full story

33 women detained for alleged SPLM-N support

November 15, 2012… Thu, 2012-11-15 22:32 (33 women detained for alleged SPLM-N support, 34 detainees) … Full story

Armed group reportedly rapes displaced women

November 25, 2012… (Armed group reportedly rapes displaced women) … Full story