Home | Press Releases    Sunday 23 November 2003

On the Removal of Women Travel Ban:

On the Removal of Women Travel Ban:

Action required to Save the Lives of DarFur Women and Displaced Southerners, abrogate the Family Law and Public Order, and stop Job Dismissals and Female Genital Mutilation

- SHRO-Cairo
- November 22, 2003

The Sudan Human Rights Organization Cairo Office welcomes the Sudan Government’s decision to allow Sudanese women movement in and outside the country without implementing the Salvation restrictive regulations that have been ruthlessly imposed by presidential decrees as well as administrative circulars since the military coup of June 1989 to suppress the women of Sudan.

The sexist enforcement of these discriminatory rules by the National Congress ruling party, police and PDFs, as well as security departments and the other governmental supporting agencies caused unprecedented suffering to the Sudanese women for more than a decade. Thousands of women were unlawfully prevented from traveling abroad to pursue the normal social, cultural, economic, and political activities they had been exercising for centuries without authority interference.

For 14 consecutive years, the notorious committees authorized by the Sudan Government to screen unnecessary women’s travel applications rejected the women’s legitimate right to attend international conferences or to pursue trade activity; even religious, tourist, and recreational trips were harshly rejected.

The fact that the Sudan Government has meaninglessly enforced humiliating travel ban on the Sudanese women all these years, and then to remove it only under political pressure to beautify the government’s violating record, should never pass without serious accountability for all of the material, psychological, and social harm that thousands of women received with no reason or legal compensation when only NIF women supporters enjoyed free movement in and outside the country.

The government must compensate the injured parties and their families as well. The Sudanese women should be protected from such acts by immediate abrogation of all curtailing laws in order to advance the women’s rights and social status. The Sudan Government must pay legal compensation to all of the victimized women who lost dearly travel plans and obligations whether in the personal or in the public domain to remedy the losses resulting from the sexist travel ban and the other irresponsible governmental decisions against the women since June 1989 to the present time. An independent judicial committee all composed of women judges and attorneys must be established for this specific task.

A worst violator of women’s rights, the Sudan Government, however, has not yet removed a number of sexist laws and administrative regulations that continue to curb the women’s rights in gross violation of international human rights norms. Regrettably, the Sudan Government’s ruling party, bureaucratic agencies and government-supported militias still are strongly empowered to harass the Sudanese women in all spheres of the social life, including the heinous crimes of extra-judicial killing, rape, abduction, and enslavement.

The Sudan Government decision to remove travel ban will only be fully appreciated when the same government sincerely adopts immediate stoppage of the savage aerial bombardment, housing demolishment, arbitrary detention, displacement, and child conscription that are frequently launched against the innocent women and their families -the consequences of which millions of women were forced with government persecution to seek refuge abroad in unbearable conditions apart from their beloved ones and supportive communities. Still, thousands of families, women, children, and elderly live without humanitarian support in the South and DarFur as a direct result of State violence.

The intrusion of government agencies in the women’s right to privacy is daily exercised against the displaced women in Khartoum and the other major cities: confiscating indigenous diet, harassing women market activity in the informal sector, and sending many helpless women for long periods of incarceration without charge in prisons and police stations as unlawful "ordinary security work" is shamelessly practiced by the NIF ruling party police and security agencies.

The government violations of women privacy have been systematically extended to the school curriculum that teaches female pupils to think of themselves only as "sexual objects in need of material provision and mental protection" by the NIF "mastering immas." Because the NIF senior executives, led by the president, "officially" encourage the female genital mutilation, hundreds of thousands of the Sudanese girls are daily threatened by the FGM criminal practice against the integrity of their bodies, personalities, career-making, and social status.

The women’s rights are strictly curtailed with respect to the family law, public employment, and the other key areas of women’s rights. Even though the administrative travel ban is apparently nullified, by the authoritative Public Order Act a woman suspected of "movement outside her home" without muhrim (guardian relative) is subject to inspection, arbitrary arrest, and detention without legal charge by the NIF ruling party and a long list of many other women surveillance committees.

The Personal Status Law, which violates vital secular principles as well as genuine Islamic teachings deprives the women from the right to choose a spouse, subjects the women to husband decision-making without wife’s consent, and "privileges" men with polygamy, remarriage, and one-sided divorce rights at expense of the women and children interests. The NIF family law proved to be a real disaster to the Sudanese woman and her personal status.

The Sudan Government exercises discrimination by sex against women in major areas of the job market, including key professional positions in the judiciary and diplomatic missions. Equally important, the government annually wastes substantial portions of State budget instead of using the funds to develop rural women with income generating projects, health, and education in security expenditure. Equally important, hundreds of the working women in the urban centers have been purged by the 1989-2003 government’s wrongful dismissals from the public service or the private sector for political reasons without legal or social compensation.

? The Sudan Government must immediately stop all extra-judicial killings, dehumanizing tortures, or displacement of the innocent women, children, and their family members in the DarFur war-affected region. The government must immediately insure humanitarian support for the displaced women and their families in Khartoum and the other cities as well as abroad.

? Government must put an immediate end to the brutalizing campaigns by police and security forces against the privacy of the southerner women and the women from DarFur and the Nuba Mountains in the areas of the displaced citizens in and around the National Capitol Khartoum, Kosti, Obeid, Fashir, Port Sudan, Kassala, and the other major cities of Sudan.

The Sudan Government’s decision to cancel the June 1989 sexist decrees that humiliated the Sudanese women with forced incarceration and the banning of free movement in and outside the country will not guarantee the women’s full enjoyment of free movement unless the other human rights that still are severely curtailed are legally recognized and practically realized.

? To insure the women’s full enjoyment of human rights in accordance with international human rights norms, SHRO-Cairo asks the Sudan Government to abrogate all of the Salvation sexist policies and practices, including the Public Order Act and the Personal Status Law.

? The government is required to allocate sufficient funds for effective social development programs to improve health, education, and income generating activities for the displaced women and families against whom the government has been wastefully spending the largest budget on security and military operations for political repression.

? The Sudan Government is legally responsible to remedy all the financial and moral losses resulting from the women’s travel ban and the other irresponsible decisions that reduced the women’s rights since June 1989 to the present time.

? A competent all-women judicial committee must be established to remedy the women’s grievances caused by the government’s travel ban (June 30, 1989 to the present time) with full financial and social compensation.