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Sudan one of worst countries for women's rights: survey

November 13 - 2013 LONDON

Sudan is one of the worst countries in the Arab states for women's rights, a poll of various gender experts reported on 12 November. Out of the 22 countries in the list, Sudan occupies number 17.

“Strict interpretations of Islam curb Sudanese women's freedoms,” the survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation states. “It allows for domestic abuse, child marriage and marital rape. Sexual violence is common and often goes unpunished,” Reuters reports.

In the survey, the researchers point to the 12.1 million women and girls that are victims of female genital mutilation. Also, girls can legally marry from the age of 10, and a third of the women aged between 20 and 24 were married by the age of 18. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 31, the poll reports, saying there are 730 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births.

Sudan's article 152 of the penal code is used to justify arresting and flogging women for the way they dress, it is stated. Experts also found that victims of rape often do not report it, fearing they will be tried for adultery.

“There are some laws that target women, degrade them and affect their human dignity. Through these laws women are degradingly punished by whipping and imprisonment,” a journalist was quoted as saying.

Out off the 22 ranked Arab countries, Egypt is the worst to be living in as a woman. “99.3% of Egyptian women are subjected to sexual harassment and there are high rates of female genital mutilation,” the researchers found. In addition, 27.2 million women are victims of female genital mutilation in Egypt, the largest number in a single country in the world.

The archipelago Comoros in the Indian Ocean polled well across all categories, Reuters says, except for political representation. “Comorian women have a good deal of social freedom while sexual abuse is recognised and punished.”

The Thomas Reuters Foundation's poll surveyed six themes: violence against women, reproductive rights, women in the family, women in the economy, women in society and women in politics. These are key themes of the UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which is signed by 19 Arab League states. Sudan did not ratify the convention.

The Reuters poll of experts included the US State Department, Unicef, the World Bank, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others.

File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid 

For the 'Women's right in the Arab world' infographic please click here.


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