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Tea sellers’ vigil broken-up in Khartoum

October 18 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Equipment of a tea seller at a bus stop in Sudan (File photo: grindimwind.ch)
Equipment of a tea seller at a bus stop in Sudan (File photo: grindimwind.ch)

On Tuesday morning security services broke-up by force a vigil organised by hundreds of tea sellers in front of the Friendship Hall in Khartoum. The tea sellers were protesting a ban against their work in a number of key sites in Khartoum. Activists were arrested.

Tahani Abbas from the legal office of No Suppression against Women Initiative, told Radio Dabanga that the authorities arrested Omar Ushari and Bakri El Ajami who participated in the vigil in solidarity with woman tea sellers.

She reported that about 400 women tea sellers held a vigil in front of the headquarters of the Social Responsibility Forum in the Friendship Hall, which was attended by Minister of Social Affairs, Mashayer El Dawalab.

“The authorities prevented them from carrying banners condemning the decision. The tea sellers refused to leave the place where they sat on the ground in protest against the way the authorities dealt with the peaceful vigil.”

Abbas said that in late September Khartoum issued decision banning work on Nile Avenue, the Green Square, and a number of other places.

The authorities in Khartoum locality are waging ‘a horrific campaign’ against tea and refreshment sellers in the Sudanese capital, 

Equipment confiscatied

She pointed to the confiscation of the equipment of 380 tea sellers working on the Nile Avenue in downtown Khartoum in addition to other women the Khartoum districts of Burri and Ed Deim.

She explained to Radio Dabanga that the association of food and beverage vendors held meetings with the locality administrations without finding appropriate solutions

The secretary-general of the Association of Food and Beverage vendors, Awadiya Mahmoud, condemned the banning of tea sellers from working on the Nile Avenue and the Green Square and subjecting them to constant campaigns by the police of public order.

The Commissioner of Khartoum earlier described in a meeting with the association of food vendors the ban decision as final and stressed the determination of the locality to establish tourist investment projects on the Nile Avenue.

Mahmoud said that the police of public order detained 30 tea sellers working near Bashayer Hospital at Mayo district and forced them to stay in jail because of their work after nine p.m.

She explained that the public order court issued a fine of SDG 1,000 ($150) to each of them or imprisonment for three months in case of non-payment without giving them the opportunity to hire lawyers.

Mahmoud condemned the authorities’ harsh sentences and ill-treatment against tea sellers. She pointed out that most of them are widows who have children to raise.

Desperate

There are more than 8,000 women engaged in selling tea and food, according to an inventory conducted two years ago.

“The women are in desperate need to practice their trade, especially in light of the deterioration of living conditions that forces them to sell tea in the markets and streets,” Mahmoud told Radio Dabanga in a previous interview.

In July 2016, the state Commissioner issued a decision to withdraw the permits of vendors to sell tea along Nile Street, the boulevard that follows the Blue Nile, without the provision of alternatives for the women sellers to carry on their businesses close to shopping areas.

Study

A study published last year by economic expert Dr Hassan Abdelati found that 88.6 per cent of the tea sellers in Khartoum are either displaced or migrants from rural areas.

In the study, Dr Abdelati asserts that the tea sellers’ sector is growing because of inflation, war, difficult economic conditions, illiteracy, and poor education standards among the women.


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