Protecting women and girls

A girl plays in North Darfur. The person depicted is not the person featured in the story. OCHA.

‍Sudan | 2021 | CBPF

Sudan, North Darfur. Aisha (not her real name) was forced to marry at 13. Now 19 and a mother of one, she is determined to protect her daughter from early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Aisha, whose family was displaced by fighting years ago, now lives somewhere in North Darfur. She attended awareness sessions on gender-based violence (GBV) and other forms of violence run by the national NGO Nada Elazhar for Disaster Prevention and Sustainable Development (NADA) — one of the few organizations working in this remote area of Sudan.

Aisha explains: “ I now understand the different types of violence better and where women can get help. I was married off when I was too young and without my consent.”

She adds: “At the end of NADA’s sessions, I decided I will never allow female genital mutilation to be performed on my daughter, and I want her to go to school. I talked about this with my husband and sisters, explaining the dangers of female genital mutilation and early marriage.”

Many people in Aisha’s area have experienced violence because of armed tribal conflict and war. “Harassment and rape often occur when we fetch water and firewood,” she explains. “Before this training, we did not know where to seek help.”

NADA also works with husbands and fathers to raise their awareness. “I am happy because I convinced my husband to protect our daughter from [FGM], and he agreed to attend awareness sessions. I think it is good that NADA speaks with both men and women to spread information on the dangers of certain customs on girls.”

This intervention reached 21,000 people, including people living with disability, female-headed households, unaccompanied and separated children, and GBV survivors. The project provided protection, health and legal services, and case management and referral services, including the construction of women’s centers, where GBV survivors can access assistance in one place.

NADA Executive Director Shaza N. Ahmed says: “GBV is a common and serious challenge in conflict-affected communities. Because displaced communities usually [have] low awareness of their rights and risks associated with early marriage and FGM, women do not have adequate information on how to protect themselves from further harm and violence.”

*Aisha’s name changed to protect her identity.

*The photograph does not depict the subjects of this story


More information on the Sudan Humanitarian Fund