Sudan: Southern Women Face Major Injustices
Friday, October 15, 2010 2:20 PM

Women living in southern Sudan face a myriad of difficulties, including gender-based violence, certain harmful traditional practices, armed violence, inadequate justice systems, and a lack of schooling and access to health care.

After 21 years of war, accurate data on the extent of these problems is unavailable, but observers feel the number affected is growing.

What is know about the region is that southern Sudan is populated by pastoralist groups that rely on cattle for their livelihoods. Cattle raids are common (often to obtain payment for bride prices) and have become more deadly as years of war have made small arms easily accessible. Also, women in southern Sudan may bring cases of sexual or reproductive rights violations through venues of customary law; however, observers have noted that customary law tends to favor men and punish women in such cases. Government courts and institutions are still being formalized.

Furthermore, school attendance in the region is extremely low for both sexes, and only slightly more than one quarter of girls attend primary school. Poor road and communication systems increase the difficulty of obtaining education and health care.

It is hoped that a study by a number of aid groups, to be released at the end of this year, will further illuminate the abuses in need of redress.

Compiled from: Sudan: Southern Women Struggle for Justice, Interagency Gender Working Group, (7 October 2010).