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Sudan – The Muslim Personal Law Act of Sudan, 1991

  • Country: Sudan
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy & Wife Obedience

Sections 25(c), 33, 34, 40(3), 51, 52, 91 and 92 of the Muslim Personal Law Act of Sudan, 1991 provide that the contract of marriage for a woman shall be concluded by a male guardian, confer different rights in marriage for men and women, and mandate wife obedience.

Section 25(c). The validity of a marriage contract is conditioned on the existence of a guardian who would conclude the contract [for the woman].

Section 33. guardian of a Muslim woman shall be male, sane, mature and Muslim.

Section 34. (1) The marriage of a pubescent woman shall be concluded by her guardian with her permission and consent to the husband and the dowry. Her word regarding her attainment of pubescence shall be conclusive unless it contradicts the obvious.

(2) A virgin pubescent woman’s express or implied affirmation is necessary if her guardian concluded her marriage contract and informed her later.

Section 40(3). The guardian of a minor girl cannot conclude her marriage contract unless there is permission from the judge. The guardian has to prove that the marriage will benefit the minor girl, that the husband is suitable and the husband pays the dowry usually paid to women of her status.

Section 51. The wife’s rights in relation to the husband shall be:

(a) to be provided with living expenses;
(b) to be allowed to visit her parents and those relatives whom she is prohibited by Shari’a law from marrying and to receive the aforesaid in her home;
(c) the husband must not (i) interfere with her private property, and (ii) harm her financially or emotionally; and
(d) to be treated equally and justly with her co-wife or co-wives.

Section 52. The husband’s rights in relation to his wife shall be:

(a) to be taken care of and amicably obeyed; and
(b) to have the wife preserve herself and his property.

Section 91. Except in situations involving a violation of Shari’a law, a wife shall always obey her husband if he:

(a) has paid her dowry in full,
(b) could be entrusted with her, and
(c) provides her with a home that complies with the Shari’a requirement among good neighbors.

Section 92. If the wife refuses to obey her husband, her right to be provided with a living ceases to be valid during such refusal.

Impact: In 2021, Noura Hussein, a young Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for defending herself against her rapist, was finally released from prison. At 17, Noura was forcibly married off against her will to a man who raped her with the aid of three male relatives. When he attempted to rape her again, Noura defended herself. The man died in the ensuing struggle, and Noura was sentenced to death by a Sudanese court. However, the laws in Sudan which allow forced marriage of girls and women continue to remain in effect and need to be amended to prohibit child marriage and ensure women only enter into marriages with full, free, and independent consent.

Explore Sudan’s full law