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Magnifying the sound of survivors of sexualized violence in Sudan

My journey began when I was old enough to realize that there was something terribly wrong with how restricting gender norms and expectations are. I was born in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are degraded and dehumanized by strict laws and customs. I was also raised in Sudan, where -even though women enjoyed more freedoms such as the ability to work and drive automobiles- cultural norms and patriarchy still lurked within the society. I started to ask myself and wonder why women were treated differently than men, and why they were was much hush-hush when women’s issues were discussed. This made me restless, and my passion for resolving this dilemma began to grow and expand to the point where I wished there was something I can do. For a long time, I kept on harboring feelings and thoughts, until I decided that the best outlet for them was through citizen journalism, through which I will be able to empower women through exposing deep underlying issues.

One of the most important issues that I seek to address, and solve is the use of sexualized violence against female activists in Khartoum, and in conflict zones such as Darfur, where rape is still continued to be used as a weapon of war. The issue of sexualized violence is one that is swept under the carpet, and not enough attention is being given to it, nor has it made its way to be regarded as an issue that affects women’s health. The reason for this is that Sudanese culture is one that treats rape as a taboo subject due to its sensitive nature, and one that rushes to blame the victim, thereby giving way for the perpetrators to enjoy unlimited impunity. About two years ago, I was shaken to the core, when Safia Ishaq, an activist with Girifna spoke about her ordeal of being gang raped by the NISS in Khartoum. I was outraged, but inspired to help women and girls who have gone through this trauma.

Safia’s case was unique because she transcended cultural conceptions and taboos. It is not customary for women who have been raped to speak out, or they would face society’s merciless victim-blaming. Her courage continues to inspire me as I speak, and that is why I have taken a positive step to gain experience in helping rape survivors. Right now in Sudan, there are no centers or facilities that specifically offer support to the survivors of rape because of the taboo nature of the issue, as well as the disintegrating infrastructure. I am currently a certified sexual assault advocate serving on the crisis hotline to lend my mind and heart to survivors of this most traumatic of experiences. My vision to tackle this problem is to introduce the concept of confidential crisis hotlines and/or counseling centers throughout Sudan to support rape survivors. I hope to be able to channel my passion for helping survivors, and continue my journey of empowerment.

Comments

bhavna's picture

Victim blaming!

Dear Anab,

Let me first congratulate you for the courage you have shown to stand up for the issue which is indeed seen as a fault of the women who is the victim. My salutes to the brave woman Safia who has not just dealt with the trauma but have inspired other women to speak against the gnawing issue a woman faces everywhere around the globe. Best wishes for your project and may you succeed in your endeavor.

Love

anab87j9's picture

Stigma of shame

Thank you Bhavna!
I am still in the process of gathering resources and figuring out how to appropriately deliver support for sexual assault in a culture where stigma is still strong, and notions of shame and victim blaming take precedence over the care for the survivors. I am pretty sure that there are many Safias out there who could not come forward because of fear. I look forward to starting this soon so women know that they are not alone and so that they may become empowered.

Love,

Anab

anab87j9's picture

A glimpse of optimism

Angelina Jolie and William Hague to fight war-zone rape and sexual violence

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/angelina-jolie-and-william...

Yosra Akasha's picture

Such help is needed

victims' support facilities are very rare in Sudan as you said. In addition to the cultural bariers let us take into account the fact that NCP government wouldn't allow such institutions to exist. in 2009 Amal centre for supporting the victims of torture was closed by security services soon after Bashir ICC arrest warrant was issued.

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

anab87j9's picture

Yes Yosra it is true that the

Yes Yosra it is true that the NCP will not let centers like these operate, and so our challenge will be devising means by which we can reach these women despite what is going on. I am convinced that with an adequate network of volunteers and the right spirit we will achieve this.

wizamamat's picture

Violence against women must end

Thank you for raising your voice against violence against women in Sudan.
You have lived in two volatile areas where women are treated like second class citizens. I am inspired by your writing.
There is hope for Sudanese women and girls.

anab87j9's picture

Thank you wizamamat . Yes

Thank you wizamamat . Yes indeed living in those two areas is what continues to power me. I am a woman, and won't back down!
Love,
Anab

CourtneyPaige's picture

Sexualized Violence

Dear Anab,

Thanks very much for sharing your experience. You speak of very important issues facing women, particularly in conflict zones. I appreciate your motivation and energy toward introducing support services for victims, while also finding ways for them to be culturally and contextually appropriate and sensitive. I would love to learn more about how an online community could help in these efforts. What role could an online community, like World Pulse, play in addressing these issues and supporting the victims?

Again, many thanks for sharing.

All the best,
Courtney

anab87j9's picture

Hi Courtney: Thank you for

Hi Courtney:

Thank you for reaching out to help! At this point I am a sponge taking in as much as I can and making use of the valuable suggestions that I find from my sisters here on WP. What the online community can do is bring attention to this fact. I guess for a first step, the victims would feel a little better knowing that this issue is being talked about. I am looking froward to hear more from my sisters here on how to approach this problem. So far, I have gotten a brilliant suggestion from one of my sisters here, which was to start online survivor counseling and have volunteers to do that throughout the world! It was an amazing idea and certainly one that I am keeping on my mind!

I look forward to more valuable exchanges! There is no stopping the power of women who work together!

Much love,

Anab

Theresa's picture

courage

Hi Anab,

Your story is so strong, obviously a reflection of your courage and my guess why you joined World Pulse. The perfect venue to share such stories, to teach all of us throughout various locations around the world. I sometimes feel so isolated from the world, watching and learning from our public broadcasting and BBC stations, but it is so much more real hearing it from a voice directly involved with the issues against women in conflict areas. The work you are doing is amazing, and sharing it even more so. Keep the courage.

Kind regards,

Theresa VE

anab87j9's picture

Much love to you Theresa.

Much love to you Theresa.

Anab

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