Women and gender ratio
The situation of women in Sudan is characterized by severe restrictions. Participation in social life is made much more difficult for them both by culturally determined traditional structures and, since Omar Al-Bashir came to power in 1989, by a very strict interpretation of Islam and the rules and rules of conduct resulting from it.
Clothing regulations such as the use of headgear or the ban on wearing trousers, compliance with which is monitored by the religious police and regularly followed up with draconian punishments as well as flogging, criminalize the everyday life of women.
Furthermore, women in particular have the freedom to travel and the right to work; according to the World Bank, women in Sudan only make up 13.6% of full-time employees and the right to land. These severely restricted rights for women are also reflected in the poor performance of the country in a comparison of gender equality on a regional or continental level as well as worldwide. State repression also offers little space to raise awareness of women’s rights on the Internet and social media, and activists are harassed.
In comparison, women are represented above average in Sudanese politics. This is mainly due to a quota for women, which stipulates a share of 25% for the Sudanese National Assembly. Women are chosen from a separate list. In the last elections in 2015, the proportion of women among MPs was increased to over 30%. This means that the proportion of women in parliament in Sudan is higher than in some European countries. The work of the large number of women, however, among the representatives of the people makes little at a improvement of women’s rights in the country felt. For example, according to Muslim legislation, the marriage of girls is still allowed by a court order from the age of 10, which is the lowest marriage age in all of Africa. These early marriages exacerbate the problem of health hazards from obstetric fistulas with the accompanying incontinence and also lead to a shortened educational path. In Sudan, a third of girls are married before their 18th birthday and 7% before their 15th birthday. There was also a slight decrease in female genital mutilation (FGM) that was widespread across the board.owed not to political decisions, but only to the toleration of the work of strong civil society women’s movements with international support. Attempts to ban FGM in the national parliament failed in 2009. This was achieved in some regional parliaments, for example in the Red Sea State. However, the law was not applied here and had to be called a paper tiger. The Sudan is among the countries with the highest prevalence of FGM: almost 90% of girls and women between 15 and 49 years were circumcised.
At the end of April 2020, a joint decision was made of the Sovereignty Council and the Sudanese Cabinet added an article to the Sudanese penal code that criminalizes female genital mutilation and provides for fines and prison terms of up to three years for violations.
The effectiveness of the threatened punishments remains questionable when FGM is deeply rooted in social traditions. A research project at the University of Zurich is investigating a new approach to influencing traditional attitudes in Sudan, in which the female genital circumcision is deliberately indirectly discussed as a subplot in entertaining films.
Soap Opera against female circumcision in Sudan
Audio report by SRF, October 15, 2016 (05:34 min.)
According to franciscogardening, Sudan is one of only six UN members whose parliaments have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The ratification of the “Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa” signed by Sudan in 2008 is also pending. Attempts to strengthen women’s rights in the Sudanese parliament have long been vehemently opposed by radical currents.
Sexual orientation and gender diversity / LGBTQI *
According to the current Sharia law, homosexuality is illegal in Sudan. Violations have been punished by Article 148 of the Criminal Code since 1991. Along with Mauritania, Somalia and parts of Nigeria, Sudan is one of the African countries in which the death penalty could be imposed for repeated same-sex sexual activities. First and second violations can be convicted of flogging, stoning or up to five years imprisonment. Homosexual men face the death penalty after the third and homosexual women after the fourth violation, but it has never been enforced. The death penalty threatens heterosexual relationships for certain sexual practices.
The Draconian punishments and the very high social stigmatization of homosexuality are justified with the pronounced Islamization of politics and society by the Maliki school of Sunni Islam, which is dominant in Sudan and which stands for an extreme attitude towards homosexuality.
In Sudan there is no possibility to openly profess a homosexual orientation. Criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization mean that homosexuality is hidden from family members and close friends. An LGBT community hardly exists. With Freedom Sudan, founded in 2006, and Rainbow Sudan, an online magazine from 2012, there are two platforms that support LGBT people almost exclusively online. The Mesahat, Foundation for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which works for Egypt and Sudan, published the documentary “LGBT Voices from Sudan”that describes violence in Sudan based on gender identity. Also Bedayaa (founded in 2015) tried assistance to life as LGBT in Egypt and Sudan to give.
The pronounced homophobia is also abused by political and religious movements to combat liberal tendencies in other areas of social life.
“Queer voices from Sudan” – a short documentary about life as an LGBT in Khartoum (06:26 min)