Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday urged [HRW news release] the Sudanese government to reform its discriminatory laws and abolish both the death penalty and all corporal punishment after a young Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Intisar Sharif Abdallah, who is believed to be under the age of 18, was sentenced in April under article 146 of Sudan's Criminal Act of 1991. The provision requires that a married person who commits adultery be sentenced to death by stoning, while an unmarried person receives 100 lashes. Abdallah is currently detained in Omdurman prison with her five-month-old baby. Although Sudanese law prohibits death sentences for juveniles, the court in this case did not inquire about Abdallah's age. HRW expressed concern that the court did not provide her legal counsel or an interpreter, despite the fact that Arabic is not her first language. Bekele pointed out that the death sentence by stoning is in violation of domestic as well as international law and called for Abdallah to be released immediately.
Discrimination and violence against women is a global issue. In March, HRW urged [JURIST report] the Afghan government to release around 400 women and girls who were imprisoned for "moral crimes" including flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence and "zina," sexual relationship outside of marriage due to rape or forced prostitution. In July of last year the UN Women [official website] released [JURIST report] a report detailing the persisting discrimination against women around the world. The report also examined how the rule of law discriminates women and found that rule of law does not provide adequate protection for women in practice. A month earlier UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo [official profile, DOC] stated [JURIST report] that even the US is facing continued violence against women, especially poor, minority and immigrant women. In May 2011 the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] introduced [JURIST report] the first international convention to combat violence against women [text] to create a legal framework that would better protect women against violence. The same month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] Tunisia and Egypt to ensure that women's rights receive constitutional protection.