Overall, penal codes under the auspices of Sharia or Islamic Law in
Sudan have made it difficult for women to participate in politics. Moreover, the state’s conservative interpretation
and implementation of Sharia law is criticized for deviating from the Islamic precepts of tolerance, forgiveness and equality.
Yet, with the support of Islamists, and the power of the military, President al-Bashir was successful for maintaining these
Under the type
of Islamic law that was implemented in Sudan, women had limited financial resources because they virtually lacked any
legal right to ownership. They are restricted from having access to land, even in the form of tenancy. Their access to property
other than land is equally restricted in that although women can possess assets, it is virtually impossible for them to manage
such assets freely. According to Sharia law, women must always defer to their husbands or male guardians in administering
their assets. Widows cannot even manage inherited assets; they must transfer the administration to sons or other male family
members. Similarly, women have no access to bank loans; access to all forms of credit is reserved only for men.
which allows the state to enforce public morality has reduced women’s mobility and their participation in the public
sphere. In Sudan gender segregation is
implemented in all public spaces. For example, on public buses, women must stand separately in the back.
also restricts women’s freedom of dress. In 1983, the Islamic government enforced the practice of wearing veils for
all women, including non-Muslims. In Khartoum, the restrictions
became even more severe in 1991 when the government imposed the wearing of opaque clothes from head to feet. Women that are
caught in violation of these restrictions can be subject to high fees and lashings. These restrictions are a stark contrast
to the 1960s, a period during which women typically wore veils in villages but felt free to adopt western styles of dress
in larger towns and cities.
financial resources, limited mobility, and public harassment, women have been discouraged to participate in the public sphere.
If gender inequalities remain codified in laws like the 1991 penal code, it is doubtful that quotas will make substantial
differences in decreasing gender inequalities.