Victims and heroes: Nuba women struggle in two years of war
In a collaborative effort between the Arry Organisation for Human Rights, and Nuba Women Activists, researchers for this paper worked at considerable risk to conduct interviews with women activists, and give voice to the great hardship of women in the ongoing armed conflict in the Nuba mountains of Sudan. Multiple instances of abuse and violence are recounted throughout the report, with a focus on displaced persons, activists, and religious-based discrimination, before conclusions and recommendations are presented.
The report gives a brief historic overview of recent events and the scale of the crisis. Since South Sudan was established in 2011, the Sudanese government have been fighting in the Nuba mountains following the region's alliance with southern separatists in the recent two-decade long civil war, and disputes regarding recent elections. This has led to a famine-inducing siege that has blocked aid-agencies' access to victims. Those Nuba women that have managed to escape the conflict zone and reach urban areas such as Khartoum have found themselves victims of increasing discrimination, threats of violence and sexual assault, barriers to employment, and loss of rights. Additionally, many Nuba are Christian, a source of further discrimination in a country that has moved toward becoming an increasingly strict Muslim state. The situation is particularly harsh for female activists coordinating efforts to help Nuba refugees who make it to urban areas in Sudan, often going so far as providing their own homes for numerous families, in crowded conditions and with little food. Nuba women activists in politics, law, human rights, media, and social media have been targeted, attacked, and sometimes driven into exile; those arrested are raped, tortured and their lives are threatened (and those of their families). The report concludes with five recommendations:
1. The international community must ensure that serious pressure is placed on the Sudanese government to stop the bombing of civilian areas and allow aid agencies access.
2. All incidents of mass and individual rape must be investigated by the Sudanese government, with perpetrators held to account.
3. The Sudanese government must also respect the right to freedom of assembly and religion, and the rights of women to work, education, and access to health care.
4. Laws that violate the equal rights of women must be revised and amended, particularly the public order law.
5. Both the Sudanese government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement must respect the United Nations Security Council decision No. 1325 and ensure women's participation in peace-building and the political process.