Women's Rights in Sudan
Public discourse surrounding political, human and women’s rights in Sudan is experiencing a major shift. Issues of political and social participation and freedoms have been at the forefront of Sudanese protests in recent years. Women have played a major role in breaking down norms and building up a new female identity.

The Protests

Sudan still faces major internal conflict due to the secession of South Sudan and the ensuing conflict in 2011. In recent years, the role of women and their rights has come into question for the Sudanese people. Women in Sudan have specifically felt subjugated due to legal regulations and celebrated when the country eradicated these laws.

A key facet of these issues is class. Upper-class women wear different clothes than poorer women in Sudan. This discrepancy is not only troubling but deeply rooted in socio-political inequity. BBC reported that “in recent years it was common to see rich Khartoum women wearing trousers in public—while those targeted by the morality police were often poorer women from the marginalized areas on the periphery of this vast country.”

The Reason

The Global Fund for Women outlines the varying causes for many of the protests in Sudan. Some of the protests took place at military headquarters. The protestors staged a sit-in and called for “civilian rule, women’s rights and an end to the nation’s civil wars.”

Some of the specific regulations that women want to change are in regard to their physical appearance. Some examples Sudanese would like to change include how they must dress or cover their hair. Breaking any of the current rules can result in harsh and demeaning punishments. GFFW reported that “thousands of women have been sentenced to floggings under the laws, with poor and minority women particularly affected.”

Violent Response

The protestors filling the streets are primarily women, an estimated 70%. These women come from many backgrounds ranging from students to housewives to street traders. This diverse group of females march the streets while chanting, clapping and singing. Amidst the clamoring for change, human rights violations also occur.

There was an increase in violent attacks during many of the protests in favor of women’s rights in Sudan and the ending of the civil conflict. There have been instances of rape, disfigurement and burnings. The military more subtly uses sexist language and insults as another weapon against those protesting for women’s rights in Sudan. Human Rights Watch asserts that this retaliatory violence “escalated following the Arab uprisings, the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economic downturn and the proliferation of new wars in southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.”

Looking Forward

The push for women’s rights in Sudan is progressing forward and incorporating the issues of class and poverty. The country now realizes that the need for comprehensive human rights laws (and specific laws protecting women) is urgent.

The women’s movement is strong but needs continued organizational support. There are few laws currently in place to protect women and children and this must change. Protests, as well as the documentation of human rights violations, are not enough. The government needs to create change and protect its citizens. Women, just like all other citizens, deserve human rights.

Kiahna Stephens
Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in IndiaAs people in a wealthy, Western nation, we should feel the need to aid other countries that are less fortunate than us. India is a nation that can use all the help it can get, and there are a number of ways to help that do not require a financial contribution. More than 24.3 percent of India’s population lives below the poverty line, which is estimated to be around 267 million individuals. That is a massive number of people who have to survive on around a $1 a day. If you’re wondering how to help people in India, here are a few ways.

Fundraising is a great way to use social circles to raise money for a cause. Fundraising can be on a small scale, such as starting an online campaign to raise money for a nonprofit, or it can be more active, such as hosting a dinner party and charging guests $5 to attend. There are many different ways to fundraise, most of which do not require much initial financial investment. A bake sale, for example, would likely cost much less than it would raise in the long run. Similar ideas are a garage sale, plant sale, or offering to do yard work in exchange for a donation.

Many nonprofit organizations need all the help they can get, and they are doing great work to end poverty across the globe. These organizations often do not have much funding to hire staff members, so any volunteer work they can get is a big help. Examples of organizations that work in India but have offices in the United States are the Global Fund for Women and the American India Foundation. Both these organizations work to reduce poverty in India, either through aiding the economic advancement of women or just generally.

While volunteering and fundraising are extremely important and helpful ways to assist a cause, what it all comes down to is funding, and most of these causes are very underfunded. With 267 million people in poverty in India, it would be impossible to achieve goals of poverty reduction without donations from individuals. Many organizations give a clear picture of what your donation will be used for, and certain children’s organizations will allow you to sponsor a child through your donation as well. Children International works in India to improve sanitation conditions to improve the health of children and you can sponsor a child through them. Many other organizations, such as World Vision and Save the Children India, have similar programs.

Regardless of how you decide to contribute, it is important that you do. These organizations lack funding and are sometimes understaffed, and can always use the help. It is easy to feel like we cannot make an impact from so far away, but these are some ideas for how to help people in India. Whatever you do, you are making a difference.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr