In February 2015, Sudan passed a number of amendments to the 1991 Criminal Act, including long-awaited amendments concerning rape and sexual violence
An amendment to Article 149 (rape) changed the legal definition of rape, and a new article 151 (3) was introduced, providing a new offence of sexual harassment.
The amendments followed years of concerted advocacy by Sudanese women’s rights advocates who have called for concrete amendments to Sudan’s laws to better prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
A closer look however exposed that, whilst there were some important steps towards bringing the law in line with international standards, serious gaps remained.
The rape and sexual harassment amendments were reportedly signed into law, together with a raft of other amendments to the Criminal Act, on 22 February 2015.
It goes without saying that Sudanese females in general are shy and tend not to speak out about these daily sexual harassments they encounter even inside the public buses.
Accordingly, it is high time for concerned authorities to establish rapid response public order police forces to deal with the phenomenon.
The proposed forces should be well trained to crack down on individuals obsessed with such indecent behavior in public places through deploying them in some areas in downtown, a great deal of sexual harassment complaints are being reported.
Of course, it would be better to recruit women police officers in the proposed rapid response squads.
Identifying repeated offenders and keeping a close watch on them is the key to preventing such crimes and misconduct.
As part of the plan, the rapid response squad should step up patrol certain areas during the hours when maximum complaints are reported and women police officers should visit all vulnerable locations to check whether are being sexually-harassed and listen to complaints.
It would be better to organize seminars for female students and workers to create awareness on how to report sexual harassment-related offences.
The social media also must be utilized for this purpose to post details of such obsessive offenders.
This proposal aims at preventing such crimes by strengthening the system and instilling confidence in women.
Public transport drivers and conductors should also be trained on how to deal with such offenders.
It is high time for Interior Ministry to coordinate with the judicial authorities to develop a new mechanism to file claims against harassers on the scene of the incident, without the need to head to a police station.
I am aware know some might consider my proposal as insignificant or rubbish the entire idea; but the million dollar question is: Who can tolerate or live with injury to his daughter’s chastity and honor?
God bless Sudanese females.