“OUTLAWING FGM” IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG CONSIDERING A DEEPLY MISOGYNISTIC LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN SUDAN
With the pronouncement of Sudan’s move to outlaw FGM, SIHA problematizes this new development. In fact, SIHA asserts that we must not be blinded by the fact that Sudan still has the following active laws that impede on the rights of women and girls.
- Article 34 of the Personal Status Law paves the way for forced marriage from the age of 10;
- Article 33 of the Personal Status Law within its concept of guardianship repeals women’s ability to make decisions independently, ceding control to adult male guardians;
- Section 3 of the Sudan Personal Status Law on the guardianship and competence legitimizes forced marriage which has resulted in thousands of young women in Sudan being forced into marriage.
- The Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 is limiting and the rights of sexual violence survivors and still subjects them to be re-victimized by existing adultery laws which criminalizes women and not men since women’s pregnancy outside of marriage is considered a crime. Under the Adultery law, women are subjected to flogging of 100 lashes or death by stoning if the victim is married.
- The Sudan Criminal Act holds onto laws of morality, resulting into the broad criminalization of women and girls, including but not limited to imprisonment.
- The Sudan Criminal Act does not have any provisions on domestic violence;
- Article 151,152,153 and 154 of the Sudan Criminal Act allow the police and persecutor to direct charges against women, mostly based on the following:
- “Gross indecency” which controls women’s dress code and behavior in public spaces;
- “Deeming places of prostitution” for any space that brings women and men together, including workplaces;
These have invaded women’s privacy and impeded on the way they interact in public spaces. This has legitimized the corporal punishment of women by flogging.
- Article 79 of the Sudan Criminal Act on local alcohol brewing criminalizes thousands of Sudanese women from war and conflict zones. This exposes them to regular flogging, fining and long-term imprisonment.
With such a flawed justice system, Sudanese women are the mirror of a multitude of injustices and discriminative acts.
Whereas the criminalization of FGM in Sudan might seem well-intended, it actually does not address the root causes of women’s subordination in Sudan which are deeply ingrained in misogynistic attitudes.
SIHA’s Regional Director – Hala Alkarib seconds this by expressing concern about criminalising FGM.
“On the surface a law criminalizing FGM in Sudan, a country with one of the highest FGM prevalence rates in the world, appears to be an incredible victory for women. On reflection, however, one has to wonder whether the piece-meal reform of the legal framework in Sudan is going to bring about the transformative change needed to actually bring a halt to the practice.Sudan’s legal framework is notoriously patriarchal and discriminatory against women. Without addressing the framework as a whole as well as the misogynistic beliefs and practices that maintain and reproduce it, it is unlikely that criminalisation of FGM alone will resolve the issues.”.
- Sudan is one of three countries in the world that is not signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
- Sudan is yet to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol;