Sudan - The Muslim Personal Law Act of Sudan, 1991 - Equality Now

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. A 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.

Link to the Law


Article 31 of the Constitution of Sudan: All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination, as to race, colour, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, or ethnic origin, to the equal protection of the law.

Sex discrimination in marital status laws renders women and girls subordinate in many aspects of family relations before, during and after marriage.

If women and girls are required under the law to “obey” their husbands and/or male guardians they may face violence, including marital rape, and be prevented from leaving the home, working, choosing where to live, and be treated less equally by other family members. Allowing male guardians to “consent” to marriages on behalf of women and girls legally sanction forced marriage and restricts the autonomy of a woman to get married to the spouse of her choice. 

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