Because the number of Sudanese women participating in & leading democracy protests is so massive (by some estimates, they account for 70% of protesters), the military sent down the order “Break the girls because if you break the girls you break the men.” According to eyewitness reports, women activists are being assaulted & beaten to a pulp by ‘security forces’, their hair is being shorn off (that’s happening to male activists too), they are being taken to secret detention sites, strip searched, photographed naked, blackmailed with the photos, threatened with sexual violence, & threatened with or actually raped, including mass raped.

During the Egyptian Arab Spring protests, the assault & rape of women activists in Tahir Square was a daily problem. Media tried to portray it in a racist way as savage Arabs but Egyptian feminist groups & male activists showed the sexual violence was coming from the same source as all the other violence against protesters–the military–& they organized defense squads to protect women. The intent of the military was of course to deter women from participating in the Arab Spring.

As in Egypt, it is reported that despite the dangers, women are in the streets, throwing tear gas canisters back at the military, speaking to crowds of protesters to urge them on, & staffing protest activities just as they did before the military crackdown on the uprising.