Hon. Janet Sallah-Njie Special Rapporteur on Women © ACHPR


ACHPR79: Women human rights defenders in Sudan must be protected

Following the presentation of the Activity Reports of the Special Rapporteur on Women at the African Commission, ISHR echoed a collective call for the protection of women human rights defenders in Sudan.

The report of the Special Rapporteur on Women highlighted issues that have risen facing women in the continent. For example, the rise of feminicide cases as well as retrogressive trends in democracy that have occurred such as fewer elective positions for women in Zimbabwe and the attempt to reverse the law on Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia. The report also noted and expressed concern about a rise of sexual violence especially in conflict-prone areas.

In their joint statement, ISHR and our partners underscored the need for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan citing that this conflict has caused the largest displacement crisis in the world. Moreover, this has caused humanitarian and human rights crises that particularly affect women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

The numbers documented on displacement in Sudan by civil society organisations have been alarming, with some 10.7 million people reported to be internally displaced, while 18 million people are believed to be facing famine and over 10 millions children have been robbed of their chance to pursue an education due to the destruction of school buildings. Regional organisations have also raised the alarm over the fate of some 104 women and girls who have been kidnapped and are believed to face slavery and trafficking.

The joint statement also highlighted the proliferation of gender-based violence, the lack of access to health facilities and the complete shutdown of telecommunication services. This has made it difficult for WHRDs to report the atrocities they face and to access capital to secure WHRDs. 

Since 15 April 2023, the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has created a major humanitarian and human rights crisis on multiple levels with intersecting issues.
Angela Chukunzira, Africa Fellow at ISHR

Finally, ISHR and our partners urged the Commission to call on the warring parties to protect civilians and uphold international law by declaring an immediate ceasefire, restoring telecommunication services, ceasing attacks on health facilities and to collaborate and cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council in sharing information.

We also called on the Commission to support civil society in putting pressure on the warring parties to stop the war and to ensure the participation of women’s rights groups at the African Union. 

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