Sudan: Activists – West Darfur Women Suffer Depression After Deadly Fighting

Khartoum, Sudan — Hundreds of women displaced by recent inter-communal fighting in the Al Geneina town of West Darfur are suffering from anxiety and depression as they shoulder the responsibility of caring for their families without husbands, say women’s rights activists in Sudan’s western region.

The fighting that erupted in April left more than 200 people dead and a little more than 200 others wounded.

Thousands of families have been sheltering in government buildings, schools and mosques in overcrowded conditions with limited access to proper sanitation, according to Sumeya Musa, a women’s advocate with the local nongovernmental organization, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa.

“Some don’t have a place to sleep, some lose their job and property and everything. Some are suffering from social pressure, raising children alone, taking care of elderly and sick people and yet they don’t earn anything for life, so these economic and social pressures have really affected their lives,” Musa told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program.

Sixty-five-thousand people — mostly women and children — were displaced in the wake of the violence, according to the United Nations.

Musa said some women reported being raped or sexually harassed but most incidents of sexual violence are covered up for fear of stigma.

“There are a lot of women who got miscarriages and they really are in need of psycho-social support. There are those who have unwanted pregnancy through rape cases and other forms of gender-based violence. We all know that during war time, a lot of things happen,” Musa told VOA.

Sudanese women are hoping peace will be restored soon so they can return to their homes, said Musa. She said many of the women know that a peace deal was signed between the transitional government and armed groups but are not clear on what it entails regarding women’s rights.