By Ngor Arol Garang
March 3,2010 (KHARTOUM) – The SPLM national presidential candidate, Yasir Arman, has said his government will uphold women’s rights saying violence against women is the most blatant form of discrimination and violation of human rights.
- Yasir Arman
"This is why I accepted to be arrested by security forces when we took to the street demanding democratic reform laws to the national constitution," he said urging women to vote for him saying he will try by all means to address the vexing problem of violence against women.
The national figure, who draws on diverse support from the Southern region as well as in his native North Sudan, was making reference to when he was arrested and beaten at a protest in front of the National Parliament building in December 2009.
Arman was speaking at the opening meeting of the SPLM Northern Sector Student Women’s League held at its headquarters in Morgran, north of Khartoum.
He said there is a link between women’s issues and the attainment of Millennium Development Goals and any setback in addressing gender issues would affect achieving of millennium development goals because Sudan is part of the world.
Therefore, Sudan needs a government that will increase immediate removal of all laws which promote discrimination against women, he said, stressing that the most pressing form of violence against women is sexual violence, particularly in the war-torn region of Darfur.
He said that progress in addressing gender issues is closely linked to economic and social growth at national and global levels.
"Gender equality is the key to growth. We must make sure that we attain it," he said to a round of applause. He also made reference to the global financial crisis that drove down oil prices and consequently hurt the economy of Sudan.
"The financial crisis has hit poor women the hardest and put them in a more precarious position," he said.
He further stated that although there is a slight improvement in the number of prenatal health care units in the urban towns, a lot still needs to be done in the rural areas. In many cases, the rate of maternal mortality is still unacceptably high there, he asserted. "This problem has to be resolved to give women an opportunity to contribute to the development of their countries," he said.
The Public Order Police (POP) crackdown on breaches of laws relating to decency and maintaining the peace came into the spotlight after last year’s high-profile conviction of Sudanese female journalist and UN employee Lubna Hussein, was briefly jailed for wearing trousers in public after being spared the lashes.
In the same year, another Christian Southern Sudanese teenager Silva Kashif was arrested while walking to the market near her home in the Khartoum suburb of Kalatla.
Her mother Jenty Doro told Reuters that Khashif was taken to Kalatla court where she was convicted and punished by a female police officer in front of the judge.
The flogging in Sudan of women has caused outcry throughout the world and among rights groups. However, Khartoum remained unapologetic on the issue.