Traditional Values Are All the Rage in Sudan

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Traditional Values Are All the Rage in Sudan

Considering his disdain for women's rights, Vox Day might feel quite contented in southern Sudan. From Wednesday's Washington Post:
Crouched in a dank prison ward, Ding Maker admits she broke the law by committing adultery. But she didn't do it for love, she says. Like many women in jail for infidelity in Sudan, she did it because she wanted a divorce. For three months, she has been sitting in a cell with 12 other women, hoping to shame her husband into repaying her dowry and leaving her.

“He abused and beat me, never paying for my food or taking care of our sick children … I had no other way to get divorced,” she said.

… In patriarchal southern Sudan, as in much of Africa, only men have the right to file for divorce. The one legal loophole for Sudanese women is to commit adultery, a crime that is instant grounds for divorce. But even then, most husbands refuse to agree to one because they don't want to ask their relatives to return the dowry – in Maker's case, 90 cows – they have received from the bride's family and distributed as gifts.

… Under customary laws, a woman or man who commits adultery must pay a fine, usually seven cows or about $800. Those who cannot pay serve six months in jail.

But there are no cases of any men being put in Rumbek prison for adultery, because they own cows and land and can afford the fines, said Cmdr. Benjamin Jok, who runs the facility. Women are not allowed to own property and so cannot bail themselves out.
The Post article reported that divorce laws could be liberalized considerably as Southern Sudan prepares to draft a new constitution. This was among the reactions from some Sudanese:
… [a Sudanese court judge] wonders if citizens will accept such drastic changes. In Sudanese society, “the couple may not be in love at all,” he said. “These are arranged marriages to create an economic network of family relations. If we change these rules, our entire society could change.”
Yes, and your point would be -- ?

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