The Save Darfur Coalition honored Darfuri women refugees at the Farchana Camp in Chad to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 and to kick off a global campaign of activism against gender-based violence.
Women refugees in Farchana Camp in eastern Chad drew up a groundbreaking, one-page women’s empowerment document known as the Farchana Manifesto, which outlines the needs and challenges women face in the camp, along with demands for participation and accountability in shared decision-making.
The document was written in June 2008, after seven women suffered torture and public humiliation. They were bound, whipped and beaten with thorny sticks of firewood because they worked outside of the camp to earn money for their families. Shamed as prostitutes, these women had their goods, money and food ration cards taken away by force. Though there is no proof, it is likely that at least some of these women became pregnant as a result of rape.
In response, eight Darfuri women authored a one-page document in Arabic to shed light on the plight of women refugees and open a dialogue with the world. This document made its way from the Farchana camp into the hands of Physicians for Human Rights and is published on PHR’s site DarfuriWomen.org, along with a video about the Farchana Manifesto.
In November 2008, PHR sent a team of four experts—three doctors and one human rights researcher—into the camp to report on the lives and needs of the women living there.
The team discovered that out of the 88 women interviewed, 32 had experienced sexual violence. Many who shared their stories had never previously spoken about the attacks for fear of isolation, stigmatization or retaliatory violence.
“The women of the Farchana Refugee Camp have confronted and continue to suffer from violence,” said Niemat Ahmadi, a genocide survivor and liaison to the Darfuri diaspora community at the Save Darfur Coalition.
These women have greatly amplified the courageous voices of victims of sexual violence in the camps. Despite the suffering, they remain determined to seek justice for themselves and for women around the globe.
For each of the next 16 days, the coalition’s campaign will honor a leader in the fight to empower, protect and uplift Sudanese women and promote a corresponding action. The campaign will conclude on December 10 (International Human Rights Day).
The Save Darfur Coalition is asking that activists observe the 1st day of the campaign by reading and sharing the Farchana Manifesto with their networks.