As a young woman i find this article very disturbing and the country's law very inhumane.It's very disturbing to see how the rest of the world carries out it's laws and also treatment to women.
IAN MATHER DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
SHE is a shy and naïve 16-year-old who, like many girls, was duped into a relationship with a married man by his promises of a brighter future.
But unlike her counterparts in most countries, Intisar Bakri Abdulgader will pay for her mistake in a most horrifying manner unless her story’s impact on the West can save her life.
Abdulgader, from Sudan, is due to face 100 lashes next Friday for having sex outside marriage under the uncompromising Sharia law with which the Islamic Sudanese government rule.
It is more than likely that this public flogging will kill the teenager, a prospect which has left her terrified and unable to eat properly since being sentenced last July.
But as worldwide appeals for a pardon rain down on Sudan, Abdulgader’s plight now presents a dilemma for President Omar al-Bashir, who is keen to rehabilitate his country in the eyes of the world and transform it from a rogue state which once harboured Osama bin Laden to one able to trade with the West, particularly the US.
The country’s powerful religious leaders are insisting on the full implementation of strict Islamic law which stipulates that adultery is punishable with execution by stoning if the offender is married, or by 100 lashes if the offender is not married.
A court in Khartoum imposed the sentence last July, but it was postponed first because Abdulgader was pregnant, and again in December on the grounds of her poor health.
Washington says that it will consider removing Sudan from its list of "state sponsors of terrorism" if a peace deal is reached between the government and the southern rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), who have been waging a civil war for two decades. But Washington also says Khartoum must curb extreme Islamic fundamentalist activities.
Khartoum desperately wants to be taken off the US list of terrorist states so that revenues can flow into its coffers from its oil fields. Under international pressure it reached an agreement with the rebels on January 6 to split the country’s oil wealth, which is mainly in the south. An oil deal with the US is now a distinct possibility.
Last Wednesday the US envoy to Sudan, former senator John Danforth, held talks with Sudanese government officials and southern rebels in the Kenyan town of Naivasha in a new effort to push the two sides to conclude a peace deal.
The US government has been pressing for an agreement before President George W Bush’s State of Union address takes place on Tuesday.
Success in Sudan would benefit Bush’s election ratings because it would demonstrate that he can deal with an Islamic government, while also pleasing Christian groups who are campaigning against the treatment of the Christian southern Sudanese.
Bush has invited al-Bashir and SPLA leader John Garang to Washington to recognise their efforts and has offered to start easing US sanctions on Sudan if an agreement is reached.
Plans are already under way for an international donors conference to be held within one month of a final peace agreement, and the Sudan government hopes that cash for the reconstruction will then flow into the country. "The doors of the country will be opened to investors and to its sons who will return from outside," al-Bashir said.
But there is a long way to go. The warring parties have yet to reach agreement on the administration of three disputed areas in central Sudan: Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile. Abyei is the most contentious because of its oil wealth.
At the same time as hopes are rising of a peace agreement in the south, fresh fighting has broken out in Darfur province, where another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army is fighting for autonomy.
UN officials say that the insurgency has already forced 100,000 people to flee to neighbouring Chad.
Since seizing power in a coup in 1989, al-Bashir has been edging away from the extreme fundamentalist policies that led Sudan to harbour Osama bin Laden. But the National Islamic Front government has close ties with the country’s powerful Islamic establishment.
Under Sudanese law, all who live in northern Sudan, whether Muslim or Christian, fall under the Sudanese Penal Code’s religious law.
Scores of people were sentenced to amputation or flogging last year. Only in the cases of pregnant women is flogging delayed, allowing the opportunity for an appeal. Those accused of offences such as selling without a licence or brewing alcohol are frequently given summary trials and flogged immediately.
Last week Sudan’s Advisory Council on Human Rights discussed with justice minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin appeals by international human rights organisations over Abdulgader’s case, and over that of a boy of the same age who has been sentenced to amputation. But the council did not make any recommendation.
At the same time, a leading committee of Sudanese scholars came out against French President Jacques Chirac’s decision to ban girls’ veils in schools, and described those Islamic leaders who had supported Chirac’s decision as a "disgrace".
Sudan’s interior minister, Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein, also bridled at Washington’s demands that the Khartoum offices of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad should be shut down. "We think they are a group of freedom fighters," he said.
Last September Abdulgader gave birth to a son, Dori, for whom she is now caring. In a recent interview the girl, from a shanty town outside Khartoum, said her mother had tried in vain to get a rickshaw driver called Isam, whom she named as the father, to marry her and sign a statement that he was the father of her child.
"Isam told the court that he did not know me and therefore has never slept with me," Abdulgader said.
One possible loophole in the law is that Abdulgader is the product of a mixed marriage. She was raised a Christian like her mother, even though her father was a Muslim.
Her lawyer, Ismail Abusugrah, said he had appealed to a higher court to reject the verdict on grounds that Abdulgader was a Christian, a fact the judge "seems to have failed to consider during the trial".
Amnesty International is asking for people all over the world to appeal to the Sudanese government for the sentence to be commuted and for cruel punishments to be abolished.
Amnesty’s British media director, Lesley Warner, said: "The Sudanese authorities must not carry out this vicious sentence on a young girl. It is a cruel punishment which completely contravenes basic international human rights law, to which Sudan is a party."