This year let’s celebrate … the women of Sudan’s Nuba mountains | Lubna Hussein

International Women’s Day: There’s little progress outside of the breakaway south. But in the Nuba mountains there is bravery

Congratulations to women and women’s rights supporters everywhere on this International Women’s Day! Today we should be celebrating the women’s rights campaigners in Sudan who have been steadfast in their struggles against the regime’s constant repression. Unfortunately the only achievement was for women in South Sudan, which became a new country this year. The women there can celebrate the achievement of the country’s committing itself to international conventions of women’s rights.

But we should also celebrate the courage of the women of the Nuba mountains, who are being forced to hide their children in caves, and live as though they are in the stone age to avoid the government’s air bombing, in its continued conflict with the rebels.

Sadly, it is not only women in conflict zones who are victims in Sudan. The so-called sharia laws allow women to be lashed by whips made from rhinoceros hides. These are doled out for reasons such as dancing in mixed company. Yet Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the war crimes tribunal himself dances with women – but the sharia law he implemented is not used on him.

Sudan’s maternal mortality rate is still the highest in the world, and female genital mutilation continues, while judges punish rapists with less severe penalties than those handed to women for the “crime” of wearing trousers.

Sex education for young people is considered a call for adultery – but clerics are happy to hand out fatwas imported from Iran, and other countries that allow “weekend” marriages. Unmarried women whose partners disappear have no rights, and their babies are abandoned in the streets of Khartoum to be eaten by stray dogs.

It’s true that there are a number of female ministers in Sudan, and a number of women in parliament, but this is a cosmetic exercise to hide the true face of the regime. Women have also been asked to donate their gold to support the jihad, and promised paradise in the afterlife to help the government with the cost of the war since they split with the south and the loss of oil there. While the wives of government officials stash their jewels in bank accounts in London.

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