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Sudan officially promulgates law ensuring women freedom


Sudanese women demonstrate against the former regime in Khartoum in December 2018 ( EPA photo)
July 10, 2020 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan has officially promulgated several amendments to several laws ensuring women freedoms and criminalizing female genital mutilation (FGM), said the ministry of justice on Friday.

Last April, Sudan criminalized FGM but the law had to be promulgated and published in the Official Gazette, this was done on Thursday 9 July, said the ministry of Justice in a statement released on Friday evening.

Sudanese women took to the street massively during the four-month protests that brought down the former regime of Omer al-Bashir which during the past 30 years confiscated women’s freedom and rights placing them under the guardianship of men.

Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women was part of their demands and it was agreed as one of the goals that the transitional government should implement.

“The Miscellaneous Amendments Act (..) of 2020, deals with some reforms provided in the Constitutional Document related to amending laws related to human rights and freedoms, particularly the freedom of women and children,” said the ministry of justice on Friday.

The promulgated law abolishes separate articles in some laws that “degrade the dignity and of women, such as criminalizing female circumcision and recognizing the right of women to travel with their children abroad and other rights,” further stressed the statement.

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The consent of the husband or a male guardian was needed before to allow women to travel abroad or to take her children under the previous laws.

Activists pointed out to the contradiction between several dispositions in the Muslim Personal Law Act of 1991 in Sudan and 2005 constitution which provides that “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination, as to race, colour, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, or ethnic origin, to the equal protection of the law.”

They further said that women with such “legal” discriminations risk facing violence, including “marital rape, and be prevented from leaving the home, working, choosing where to live, and be treated less equally by other family members”.

The Ministry of Justice described the law “a basic building block for extending justice in Sudan and for promoting the Sudanese justice system to meet international judicial standards.”

Call for more reforms

For her part, Hala al-Karib, Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) praised the new law and described it “as a good step in the right direction”.

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Nonetheless, al-Karib called on the transitional government to make further reforms to remove all the outdated discriminations against women imposed by the ousted regime.

She pointed out that these amendments remain insufficient because the guardianship is implemented through other laws regulating things such as passports, immigration and the issuance of official documents and even the record of deaths and births.

SIHA regional director further said that Sudan should sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and abide by its provisions, the same for the Maputo Protocol or the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Sudan is one of the very few countries in the world that reject CEDAW.

“There is an urgent need for a real review of all Sudanese laws because they were formulated according to the perceptions of the terrorist National Congress (Party) regime and outdated concepts of women’s inferiority to impose a guardianship system on women at all levels,” she stressed.

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