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2012 | NOREF Report - From impunity to prosecution? Sexual violence in Sudan beyond Darfur

This Report by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre addresses the need for comprehensive legal reform in Sudan, particularly the revision of its Criminal Law of 1991. The categorization of rape as a form of adultery puts victims of sexual crimes in a weak position before the courts: if they fail to prove the absence of consent for the sexual intercourse it may lead to their incrimination instead. Furthermore, the definition of sexual intercourse given by the Criminal Law is very narrow and the range of evidence that may be provided to prove the accusations is very limited. The report also argues for revision of the 1991 Muslim Family Law which does not recognize marital rape as a criminal offence (p. 5-7). The situation around prosecution for sexual crimes is further complicated by a number of laws granting conditional immunity to members of the Sudanese police, and security forces for acts committed in the course of their duties (p. 6).

The report does however note that the Sudanese government has taken several important steps towards combatting violence against women (p. 7-8). These steps include the creation of a Violence against Women Unit within the Ministry of Justice, the organization of workshops devoted on the topic of collaboration with the UN Mission in Sudan, and adoption of declarations and programmes aimed at the elimination of violence. The report emphasizes the differences in the views taken by the government and the opposition as to what constitutes violence against women and how to combat it (p. 9-10).