A 20-year-old woman in Sudan has been sentenced to death for adultery and is being held in Khartoum. Intisar Sharif Abdalla was sentenced by Ombada criminal court on April 22.
Lawyers and activist groups are condemning the sentence, saying it is in violation of international standards of justice. Many think that Sudan may implement a stricter adherence to sharia, or Islamic law, after the secession of predominately non-Muslim South Sudan last year.
The lawyers assigned to her case are preparing an appeal. Adballa is illiterate and Arabic is not her native tongue. Court proceedings were held in Arabic, as it is the main language in the overwhelmingly muslim nation.
Lawyers who have met with Adballa say that she under severe psychological distress and in need of medical attention. “She’s in dire need of a psychiatrist because she appears to be in a state of shock from the social and family pressures she’s under,” said a lawyer assigned to her case.
Abdalla is believed to be 20, but some reports claim she is younger. She is believed to be from one of the outlying tribal villages in Sudan, although reporters are unclear exactly where.
Reuters notes that under Islamic law, floggings are common for crimes like consuming alcohol and adultery, but stonings are rare. The law is still listed under its statutes, however, and is a real threat to the this woman.
In 2010, a Sudanese U.N. official was sentenced to flogging for wearing long pants. It is this sort of medieval barbarism that Sudan is becoming known for following the secession of the predominately Christian South Sudan.
Abdalla’s case is being closely watched by organisations like The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), who say that even though she is undergoing the appeal process, her life is very much in danger.
Floggings for wearing pants and death by stoning for extramarital sex – news like this should be a call to action for any and all who have diplomatic sway in this region.