Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher

While the passage of various UN Resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009) and 1889 (2009) on women, peace and security are important step in the fight against all forms of gender-based violence (GBV), the recognition of the problem is not enough. There is a discrepancy between international law and existing national legislation in many Islamic countries when it comes to differentiating the act of rape from the act of zina (adultery). Islamic penal law (hudud) defined as “claims of God” include Zina, that is unlawful sexual intercourse or adultery.  According to the this law the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse is 100 lashes if the offender is not married (fornication) and stoning to death if the offender is married (adultery).There is thus a need to focus on changing national  laws to ensure human rights accountability and justice for women who are and have been victims of rape in war. The process of changing the Islamic penal code is connected to the inclusion and participation of women in the larger peacebuilding efforts and post-war reconstruction. The international attention on sexual violence have provoked an intense discussion in Sudan both among government and non-government actors, organizations and institutions on the penalty of adultery/fornication (Zina) in the 1991 penal code which is to be reformed in accordance with the new constitution of 2005. This study explores how international attention has politicized the area of gender based violence, provoked debate and activism among Sudanese women in civil society in Islamic law reform.