The attack by the state on civil society has been unrelenting and reached its peak in the last decade, when many womenʹs rights organisations struggled to receive funding, renew their registration, or gain access to certain communities, while some organisations were shut down altogether. Even the events for International Womenʹs Day were cancelled.

In this difficult environment No to Womenʹs Oppression – whose Director, Dr Ihsan Fagiri, has been a political detainee since 22 December 2018 – have continued their work, creating a state of solidarity around womenʹs issues and the fight against oppression of women. In their campaigns, monthly forum and open events they raise awareness of the serious challenges that women are facing. The group brings together women from different parts of the political spectrum, professions and geographical areas to align their efforts towards common feminist goals.

The main focus of the group has been to support women targeted by the law, especially under the Public Order Regime, such as vendor women who are frequently arrested for their economic activities.

For sexual equality in Sudan

Women take part in demonstrations in the Sudanese town of Omdurman on 10.03.2019 (photo: Getty Images/AFP)
Growing self-confidence: women have also taken part in the recent protests against long-term dictator Omar al-Bashir, with some of them loudly leading demonstrations in cities such as Omdurman and Khartoum. "Womenʹs rights activists have kept up their resistance, working in a misogynistic environment, where laws and regulations and the entire political system are against them, and where the assumption of male superiority is deeply rooted in society," writes Wini Omer

Charges of violating the Regime are, until now, considered a stigma in Sudan, so that many women prefer to stay quiet, face unfair trials without legal aid and give up their chances to be heard. No to Womenʹs Oppression has been successful in drawing attention to the discrimination against these women and encouraging women to break their silence and speak out about their experiences with the public order police.

The womenʹs movement in Sudan has largely been focused on promoting womenʹs economic and political rights. Meanwhile, many women were stuck in court in divorce or custody battles, disadvantaged on many levels due to the patriarchal nature of the Personal Status Law for Muslims.

The Personal Status Law in Sudan legalises child marriage, with Article 40 giving the father the explicit right to marry off his daughter at the age of 10. Accordingly, Sudan has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally.

The Sudanese Organisation for Research and Development (SORD) has published many studies that shed light on the socio-economic consequences of child marriage, the harmful effects of the current law and the impact of patriarchal and discriminatory laws on women in general. Their efforts also aim at increasing womenʹs access to justice in Sudan, especially in family courts, where women in divorce or custody battles currently face endless legal procedures – to no avail.

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