‘Ugliest crime’: Outcry in Sudan over lack of justice for killing of teenage girl | Women’s rights and gender equality

Thousands of people have signed a petition urging the Sudanese government to take action against a man released without charge by police after his 13-year-old daughter was shot dead.

Samah el-Hadi was shot three times and run over by a car, reports said. Neighbours have taken to social media to blame her father, who was briefly questioned by the authorities but released after telling them Samah had taken her own life. No postmortem was carried out on the girl’s body.

Samah is alleged to have died last Friday in Omdurman after a row with her father over a school she wanted to attend. Her death has led to an outpouring of stories on social media by Sudanese women sharing their own experiences of domestic violence.

In the same city on Thursday, a 19-year-old woman was stabbed to death by her husband and buried by her family before the police became involved, according to Kaltoum Fadlallah, a poet and novelist who was among the group of women which handed in the petition of more than 2,000 names to the public prosecutor’s office in Khartoum this week, urging him to reopen the Samah el-Hadi case.

“This crime is the clearest and the most ugliest crime against women and children. In order to protect Samah’s rights we want them to reopen the case and re-examine her body and arrest everyone involved. What has happened will put all families under the danger of violence,” said Fadlallah.

Among the dozens of women on social media talking about violence at the hands of male relatives were those telling stories of being beaten for visiting friends, for wearing clothes deemed unsuitable and for taking part in the 2019 protests that toppled the former president Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan repealed a law that allowed women to be flogged for wearing trousers in 2019, but there have still been reports of people being lashed at some courts. Domestic violence is not covered by Sudanese law.

According to Arab Barometer, domestic violence has occurred at 22% of households in Sudan, and 57% of reported cases include female victims.

People also shared the story of a schoolgirl in North Darfur allegedly murdered by her father and brother for talking to a man at their tomato farm. No one was arrested and she was buried without examination, said Al-Noor Mohamadian, an activist from Kabkabiya, the town where the girl died.

“Her name was Sajida Omer, and she went to a school with my cousins,” Mohamadian said. “When her uncles tried to take the case to a court, they were just convinced to sit down and resolve the issue within the family. It’s understood that her father paid the police to change the story and say that she poisoned herself.”

Ahmed Sibair, a human rights lawyer based in Khartoum, said that crimes against women and girls had increased rapidly since the beginning of the pandemic.

He said Sudan’s legal system was notoriously lenient. “If a father was convicted of killing his children they would be punished with a few years in prison, between three to five years, and get released.

“The police and the judiciary system in Sudan is based on compensations and solving problems, the prosecutors get incentives and they get upgraded for solving the problems, not for judging them.”

The police authorities in Omdurman said that they received details of the death of Samah el-Hadi on 19 March and had registered it as death in mysterious circumstances under article 51 of the criminal procedure law of Sudan.

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