A pregnant teenager gang raped in Sudan was convicted of “Indecent Acts” after her attack was filmed and posted to social media websites.
The 18-year-old victim, an Ethiopian migrant, was sentenced to one month in prison, which has been suspended, and fined 5,000 Sudanese pounds (approximately $961 USD).
BBC reports three men who admitted having sex with the woman and two who distributed the video were also sentenced. The three were each sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, while two got 40 lashes for distributing indecent material.
According to the women’s rights group Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), the police originally failed to file a formal complaint when notified of the crime “due to it being the public holiday of Eid Al Fitr.” (Eid Al Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan.) Court proceedings began only after the gang rape was widely shared on social media.
The victim also faced charges of adultery and prostitution, which could have led to a penalty of death by stoning as dictated by sharia (Islamic law), but these charges were dropped after she convinced the court she was divorced, reports SIHA.
SIHA’s Regional Director, Hala Elkarib, condemned the conviction, saying it would prevent women from reporting sexual abuse.
SIHA reports Sudanese legislation, in respect to adultery, is the effective criminalisation of all sexual relationships outside of the marital bond, as such any individual that has had intercourse with a person to whom they are not married is liable to be charged for adultery. The punishments stipulated within legislation vary in relation to the marital status of the perpetrator and for those who are already married; the penalty can be as severe as death by stoning.
Sudanese law is based on sharia. Women have been punished for wearing trousers or not covering their hair. Sudan’s enforcement of sharia law is often arbitrary, and often used to persecute African minorities. Some even claim there is a deliberate Sudanese government policy to break the spirit of several African tribes through mass rape.
Sudan’s haphazard and often brutal enforcement of sharia has claimed many victims, and is the source of much controversy.