From February 2003 until February 2010, a guerrilla war was fought in the Darfur in Western Sudan. The Darfur is a semi-arid region about twice the size of the State of Victoria in Australia. The conflict began when groups in Darfur accused the Sudanese government of favouring Sudanese Arabs while discriminating against non-Arab Sudanese. The war that resulted is known as the Darfur Genocide and claimed between 178,000 and 461,000 deaths from war, famine and disease. Civilians were deliberately targeted and 51 International peacekeepers were killed. The International Criminal Court filed war crimes charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity and murder, against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. He has not yet faced these charges which is being protested by groups around the world including in Australia. An education kit for teachers in Australia was developed using a grant from the Victorian Government and is available from Darfur Australia.
During the conflict a refugee camp was set up in Farchana, near Abeche, Chad. In this camp further atrocities took place, particularly against women. These atrocities were perpetrated not by soldiers, but by the women’s own husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.
In 2008, after a night of violence and terror against women, some as young as 13 years of age, a group of Sudanese refugee women living in the Farchana refugee camp felt that enough is enough! At risk of their lives they wrote a 14-point document calling for their rights. This document is now known as the Farchana Manifesto.
Here is what they wrote:
“We, the women of Farchana Camp, have many concerns and problems with the lack of freedom and having the opportunity to speak about freedom.
We can assign these problems to a number of items, including the following:
1.Lack of opportunity for freedom of speech, and no one to listen to what women say.
2.Lack of freedom to go to work or engage in life’s activities. If a woman is working in some occupations, responsibility is left to the woman alone in all cases, such as: illness, home activities, and responsibility for the children. While the man does what he wants with money, the responsibility is left to the woman.
3. Lack of women’s equality. One man, if he has the notion, can have one wife or two or more wives.
4.Lack of freedom for women even with their own private property; for example: money, gold, household pots and pans, and livestock.
5.Women are not allowed to make contact with people outside the community. For example: visiting neighbours, family, and friends. And women are not allowed [illegible] to travel far, and if he allows her, he does not give her money, and he tells her, “This trip is of your own accord.”
6.Lack of acceptance of higher education and universities to enable women to get ahead.
7.Failure to encourage girls in the schools and leaving the responsibility to the mothers.
8.Failure of fathers to take responsibility for girls. If something happens, the mother is blamed, and they make her hear harsh words from the family, and sometimes divorce even takes place.
9.Outside chores, such as: [illegible], provisions, construction, and feeding livestock — that is, all physical demands — are the responsibility of the woman.
10.Failure to show confidence in women, such as leaving the house without the man’s knowledge and he tells her, “You went out to commit adultery.”
11.Failure to value the life of the woman. They only value her in bed. They like a lot of births, but they do not like raising sons and children.
12.Early marriage for girls and compulsory marriage without consent.
13.In the case of meetings, women do not have the freedom to speak at organizations; only men’s statements are heard.
14.Women do not know how to submit their complaints — the place and the organization that is concerned about them.
Thank you. We hope to achieve freedom for women in the whole world.”