A young mother accused of adultery has been imprisoned with her newborn and sentenced to death by stoning – after confessing to the charges following beatings, and without a lawyer or translator.
The plight of Intisar Sharif Abdallah was gaining Western attention today, as Sudanese rights campaigners blasted it as a “failure of the justice system.”
Abdallah, who is thought to be aged between 16 and 20, is detained with her four-month-old baby near Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, the Angola Press reported.
She was convicted in a rapid single session at Ombada criminal court in Omdurman on May 13, on charges of adultery under article 146 of Sudan’s criminal code of 1991.
The young woman is said to be shackled at the legs, in deep psychological distress and does not understand the nature of her charges because she cannot speak Arabic.
It is alleged Abdallah endured beatings by her brother, after which she confessed to the charges of adultery, The Guardian reported. Abdallah’s other three children are in the care of her extended family who are filing an appeal in Ombada.
Her marital status was unclear and it was not reported who she was accused of committing adultery with. According to the Guardian, an unspecified man was detained with her but then released.
“The case is emblematic of the failure of the Sudanese judicial system,” said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin of Amnesty International’s Sudan branch.
“She was convicted solely based on a testimony she gave under duress. We call on the Sudanese authorities to stop the execution, overturn her stoning sentence and release her immediately and unconditionally.”
Sudan is one of seven countries that sentences death by stoning. President Omar Hassan al Bashir, who began introducing elements of sharia law in 1989 after coming to power through an Islamist-backed coup, aims to adopt a fully Islamic constitution now that South Sudan has seceded.
While it is rarely administered, more women than men receive the brutal punishment. The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa said the court decision, “Demonstrates the scale of discrimination against women and girls in Sudan and the biased judgments made against them for acts which require two parties — a man and woman.”
Amnesty International has urged its supporters to write to the Sudanese government and plead for the sentence to be quashed and for Abdallah to be set free.