Almost a year since the establishment of a transitional government in Sudan, there has only been minimal progress on issues of social security and justice, placing women at great risk.
This is now changing with the government’s decision to disregard or amend certain articles of the Sudanese Criminal Law, and instead ensure religious freedom, gender equality, and ultimately, peace and justice. Sudan no longer punishes apostasy – the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief – of Islam by stoning to death. The reforms also include putting an end to public flogging and to allowing the consumption of alcohol by non-Muslims.
The most important reforms adopted were those related to creating and sustaining a safer environment for women and girls in Sudan.
Sudanese women are now free to travel with their children without being required to have a permit from a male relative. This is a considerable step towards achieving gender equality under the law, considering that before, women had to secure permission from court in order to travel with their children without being accompanied by a man.
Moreover, a law was ratified criminalizing female genitalia mutilation (FGM), a practice that involves the partial or complete removal of the external part of female genitalia. FGM not only violates every girls’ rights from a very young age, it also has a myriad of damaging repercussions on their physical and mental health, as well as long-term health and sexual complications that can often lead to death.
One of the motives for outlawing this longstanding ritual is the fact that it undermines the dignity of women. The doctors, health workers or anyone else who performs it will be penalized, while the hospitals, clinics and other places where such practices are carried out will be shut down.
Therefore, these reforms represent the most important steps for Sudanese women until now, as they demonstrate that the country has come a long way and is ready for progress to take place in order to achieve gender equality.
The government pledges to continue reforming existing laws until there are no laws violating human rights left in the Sudanese constitution, particularly the discriminatory provisions against women and children.