Human Rights Watch deserves respect because it stood against the grain during the G. Bush presidency and said that the crisis in Darfur was not a Genocide.
However, the report entitled Sudan: Silencing Women Rights Defenders, dated March 23, 2016 about Sudanese women is flawed, incomplete and selective. It did not mention that Sudanese women have campaigned for and won equal pay for equal work, the right to vote, 32% of seats in Parliament (130 MPs), representation in the Cabinet, 14 Ambassadors, appointments in the Judiciary ( unlike neighbouring Middle Eastern countries) including the High Court and legal advisors to the President. 67% of higher education students are women, 41% of legal attorneys as well as 17% of police officers are women.
They won the right for their children to acquire Sudanese citizenship if the husband is not Sudanese.
Women are the majority in the civil service (61%) and have been promoted to top jobs in the Armed Forces, Police and Security Services.
The fact that this HRW report cites a case in which one young woman was detained by her brother not the government demonstrates the social dimension that is not taken into consideration by the writers of the report.
The case of Miriam Ibrahim (July 2014) in which an appeal court overturned the verdict of a preliminary court and allowed the woman to fly with her husband and children to the US shows that laws are fair and that there is room for revision and checks. When the film Suffragettes was shown in London (October 2015), some women disrupted the event arguing that there is a long way to go, despite the considerable progress of British women.
Social change is a slow process as women in the West know.
Impunity in the Sudan is out of the question. The officer who killed Awadiya Ajabna was stripped of his rank and condemned to death. The courts trying cases of war crimes in Darfur have passed verdicts on several who committed atrocities including rape and some were actually hanged.
The Arab organisation of labour has documented in a report that the participation of Sudanese women in society is the highest in both Africa and the Arab countries.
If HRW enlisted the remarkable achievements of Sudanese women, then called for more, the report would have been more credible.
In its present form it is unfair and flawed. We hope a revised version will be published.
Thursday 24th March 2016