By Dana Fleitman, JWI Program Coordinator
Sudan is a war-ravaged country ruled by a genocidal president wanted by the International Criminal Court. Plagued by years of war with newly independent South Sudan, the Khartoum regime is orchestrating widespread violence within its new borders. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said that Sudan will adopt a “100 per cent” Islamic constitution, prompting concerns the country will apply Islamic law more strictly after the secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan a year ago.
In this dangerous and oppressive environment, brave Sudanese women are speaking out. Youth-led political movements are calling for more women to be elected and given government positions, and women human rights defenders have become a powerful mobilizing force. Friday, July 13th was inaugurated “Kandaka Friday,” a reference to the brave and revolutionary women of Sudan. Kandake (Candace) in the Kushitic language is a title for strong women, and the term was used by the Kushites to refer to their queens. “Kandaka Friday” includes the #SudanRevolts Twitter campaign and a video made by local activists; this social media campaign persists despite government censorship and crackdowns on freedom of expression.
In the wake of the “Kandaka Friday”, more women were arrested in a blatant attempt by the Sudanese police to mock the day. The Sudan Tribune reported that around 300 protesters – led by women – emerged from a mosque chanting freedom slogans and were dispersed by teargas and rubber bullets from heavily deployed security forces. Tahany Hassan, a 17 year old high school female student was shot in the head on July 31st, and women activists are continuously beingraped or threatened with rape upon arrest.
Sudan has a long history of oppression, violence and war, and Sudanese women are bravely speaking out and facing severe consequences.