Challenges to the Application of International Women's Human Rights in the Sudan
Asma Mohamed Abdel Halim
The struggle for women's rights in the Sudan started nearly fifty years ago. At that time, few women were educated and those who were lived mainly in the major cities. The Sudanese Women's Union fought fiercely for women's rights and promoted women's education. The Women's Union and other groups had a great impact on changing the personal law rules at that time so that they were less harsh.
The struggle for women's rights continues today. Only recently have women begun to address women's rights as human rights. Women, particularly those active on a grass-roots level, have never addressed their problems in terms of international law, but women have challenged discriminatory laws by relying strictly on those mechanisms available within the domestic law. This chapter will address the challenges to the application of international law of human rights in the Sudan.
As a religious state the Sudan has adopted, since 1983, laws based on Islamic law. The fundamental sources of Islamic law are the Qur'an, which is believed to be the literal word of God, and the Sunna, the traditions of the Prophet Mohammed. Both the Qur'an and the Sunna have been subjects of extensive interpretation and counter-interpretation since the death of the Prophet in 632.1 This process has resulted in the Shari'a, the comprehensive codes governing subjects ranging from religious dogma and practice to ethical norms and rules of private law. Individual rights are governed by the Shari'a. Customary law governs the parts of the country that are predominantly Christian.
The interpretation of Qur'anic verses is an important part, perhaps