August 11, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese activists have criticized the Sudanese parliament’s call, earlier this month, for the introduction of stoning as a punishment for women accused of adultery along with other measures which restrict women’s rights.
The statement signed by 61 mostly female activists called upon the Sudanese, ’government, UN agencies, the African Union countries, Human Rights organizations, the International community and men and women of faith across the world to’, prevent the Sudanese from continuing to, ‘legalise acts of violence against women and girls, by enforcing laws that directly escalate the prevalence of violence against women and girls in our society.’
Most of the signatories are members of the ‘No to Women’s Oppression Coalition’, which was formed following the case of Lubna Hussein - who was arrested for wearing trousers in Khartoum - to advocate against discriminatory laws against women in Sudan.
The coalition statement described Sudan’s existing public order laws as, ‘a set of discriminatory laws injected into the Sudan criminal code and institutes grounds to violate the rights to existence and well being for the women and girls in Sudan.’
The signatories did not want to give their names or the organizations they work for, for fear of reprisal attacks by those who disagree with their position.
After April’s national elections - which monitors described as falling short of international standards - the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, increased its share from 52% to 66% of the 450 seats in Sudan’s National Assembly.
Since Bashir came to power through a 1989 military coup his party, the NCP, and its predecessor, the National Islamic Front, have worked to institutionalize Shari’a Law on a national level.
This was curtailed in 2005 when the NCP signed a peace deal with former southern rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which gave south Sudan the right to be secular and lifted some restrictions in Khartoum state where many southern Sudanese live.
Many southern Sudanese are Christian, while others follow local traditions.
The session of the Sudanese parliament known as the National Assembly called for Zina punishment to be introduced into Sudan’s public order legislation on August 1.
‘Zina’ is an Arabic word used to describe specific types of sin in Islam such as extramarital and premarital sex for which severe punishments are prescribed.
‘This type of practice [Zina] and attitude towards women does not only jeopardise their safety and security but it also perpetuates violence, conflicts and hatred in our society’ said the statement received by Sudan Tribune.
In the same parliamentary session on August 1, some members of the Sudanese parliament also appealed for HIV/AIDS education to be removed from the national curriculum.
The coalition described the move to stop sex education in Sudan as demonstaring, ‘poor judgment and lack of awareness of the implications of the health risks.’
‘Stopping sex education will be giving room to ignorance and thus the flourishing of HIV/AIDS and sexual transmitted diseases in Sudan’, the statement went on.
The statement also strongly criticized the session’s call to encourage the promotion of polygamy:
‘For the Sudan parliament to promote polygamy not only challenges one’s right to respect and dignity but also proves that the Parliament is in breach of the Protocol to the African Charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) to which Sudan is a signatory. Article 6 articulates that “States Parties shall enact appropriate national legislative measures to guarantee that monogamy is encouraged as the preferred form of marriage.’
The coalition statement also criticized the promotion of early marriage and concluded by calling upon the Sudanese parliament consider it’s responsibilities to the well being of it’s citizens ’and to abolish all acts of discriminatory laws against women and girls in Sudan.’
The full statement from the women’s rights coalition is below:
Sudanese Activists, men and women denounce Violence against Women being legalised in Sudan and call upon the Sudan Parliament to rise to the expectations of the Sudanese Society
We call upon the Sudan government, UN agencies, the African Union countries, Human Rights organizations, the International community and men and women of faith across the world to join hands and stop the Sudan Parliament whose majority represents the current Sudan ruling party. The parliament continues to legalise acts of violence against women and girls, by enforcing laws that directly escalate the prevalence of violence against women and girls in our society.
The Sudan pubic order regime is a set of discriminatory laws injected into the Sudan criminal code and institutes grounds to violate the rights to existence and well being for the women and girls in Sudan.
It is a shame to the Sudan citizens that last Sunday (1st August 2010), the Sudanese parliament called for the enforcement of the Zina punishment and the promotion of early marriages and polygamy. At the same time, the parliament appealed for the removal of HIV/AIDS education from Sudan educational school curriculums.
Zina punishment is the stoning of women who are accused of adultery or accused of having extra marital affairs. This punishment was evidently restricted by the Prophet Mohamed (Sallallaahu Alaehe Wa Sallam) and severely blocked by the enlightened Islamic scholars and Olama. This type of practice and attitude towards women does not only jeopardise their safety and security but it also perpetuates violence, conflicts and hatred in our society.
Removal of HIV/ AIDS education and awareness from the school curriculums shows poor judgment and lack of awareness of the implications of the health risks. It is also an incorrect reflection of the Sudan heritage of culture and religion because we as Sudanese have always supported the education of our children (boys and girls) which will help them understand the consequences and risks of their behaviour.
Sex education has advantages that cannot be ignored because students can be taught about the reproductive system, protection of themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and methods of contraception which would apply to their future family lives. Early inclusion of sexual education classes has proven to help students remain abstinent and responsible and appropriate sexual education can prevent sexual problems in adulthood. Stopping sex education will be giving room to ignorance and thus the flourishing of HIV/AIDS and sexual transmitted diseases in Sudan.
Promotion of polygamy is one of the major causes of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in our society and has major implications on the lives of children, families and on the stability of our societies. This was said and proven by the Islamic enlightened Olama and scholars across history. Furthermore there are several Islamic societies and countries which forbid the practise of polygamy, such as Turkey and Tunisia. Other countries like Egypt and Morocco have to a great extent put restrictions on it. There are also some countries that are currently discussing their family laws and restricting polygamous practices by enforcing consent of the first wife.
For the Sudan parliament to promote polygamy not only challenges one’s right to respect and dignity but also proves that the Parliament is in breach of the Protocol to the African Charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) to which Sudan is a signatory. Article 6 articulates that “States Parties shall enact appropriate national legislative measures to guarantee that monogamy is encouraged as the preferred form of marriage.”
Encouragement of early marriages violates Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Sudan is a signatory and which states that “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” In addition to that, a girl child faces problems when she gets married before her body has matured and the oppression takes different forms. There is lack of seriousness in a country whose parliament supports the death of its citizens during child birth or them becoming permanently disabled due to a law that was passed with such knowledge.
As Sudanese men and Women we are obliged to bring these issues to light in order to show the damaging consequences of ill treatment of women and its implications on our societies. We are calling upon the Sudan parliament to weigh the responsibility on their hands and to abolish all acts of discriminatory laws against women and girls in Sudan as well as to include the interests and the development of Sudanese people on their agenda.
Sudanese parliament calls for Zina severe punishment (stoning) and gay punishment
Al-Ahram Al youm news paper
Reported by: Yousif hamed –Sudan parliament
In its session of last Sunday; the Sudanese parliament called for Zina severe punishment and gay punishment as a response to Aids widespread. In the same time, Dr. Alhiber Nour Aldayem, the minister of Education, assured that his ministry has unified the education curriculum in the whole Sudan, which is based on the “values” and “traditions” of the Sudanese society. He also called to prevent teaching Ugandan curriculum in the South of Sudan. Moreover, in a workshop held to address the curriculum authentication and Aids-fighting awareness; Dr. Alhiber, pressed on the importance of teachers’ retraining reflecting his sorrow about what he named it: The ignorance of the school teachers when it comes to the importance of the upbringing. Also, in the same session, many voices called on the minister to dismiss teaching HIV/ AIDS- protection information in Sudan schools and eliminates it from education’s curriculum, by considering it an adultery drive. Lastly, the session advised the government to advocate and encourage early marriage and polygamy and pushing for hijab dress as well.