Sudan: Pregnant Woman Condemned to Death or Religious Conversion

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Olivia Elswick, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:13 a.m. DST, 16 May 2014

Atsbi village, Tigray, Christian Woman, Photo by Evgeni ZotovKHARTOUM, Sudan - Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, has until Thursday to either denounce her Christian faith or face a death sentence.

When Ibrahim’s father, a Sudanese Muslim, abandoned her at age six, her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox, raised her as a Christian. Ibrahim identifies herself as a Christian, but despite this she is considered by the courts to be a Muslim, as her father was.

She was reported by a family member in August 2013 and was arrested on charges of adultery. Ibrahim has been convicted by a Khartuom court for abandoning her Muslim faith in favor of Christianity, an action that, under Sharia law, indicates that she committed adultery with her husband, a non-Muslim.

Because the law considers her a Muslim, her marriage to a Christian man is considered void and adulterous. Marriage to a non-Muslim man is prohibited for Muslim women. Ibrahim and her husband have a 20-month-old son and she is expected to give birth to her second child sometime next month.

In past cases involving pregnant women, the Sudanese government has waited until the woman gave birth before executing a sentence. If sentenced to death she will likely be flogged with 100 lashes then hanged.

The blatant disrespect for freedom of religion and interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens is outraging people in Sudan and abroad. Authorities have closed Khartuom University indefinitely after Sudanese students there mounted a protest begging for the end to human rights violations, more freedom, and better social and economic conditions.

In Khartuom, foreign embassies are urging the government to rethink its decision. A joint statement issued from the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands says, “We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution.

We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam's case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” the joint statement read.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @OCElswick

Malice Aforethought

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:16 AM EDT, 3 January 2012

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” ~ Sir Walter Scott

In the world of predator and prey, the predator's desire to satiate their hunger leads them inexorable to kill. Unlike humans, the wild predator's desire to cull the weakest from the pack is purely instinctual.

By contrast, people who possess a desire to abuse others as a means to meet their own emotional inadequacies, seek out the weakest members of society to exploit. Their chosen prey can be children, the elderly, men or women who have been emotionally or physically abused.

This type of abuse is a human rights issue, but because the individuals seem to be willing participants, they are not traditionally viewed as victims. Often men and women who find themselves in adulterous or other inappropriate relationships play the role of victim or victimizer. When the two first meet, each tell lies which are sown in a garden of deceit with the hope of a relationship. The predator lies to his prey, and the prey lies to themselves by believing the lamb can lay unharmed with the lion.

Though abusive relationships affect people from all walks of life, this post shall focus on women. As a person who has suffered abuse during my formative years, I was often perceived as prey. Once I reached adulthood I engaged in unhealthy relationships until I received help. However, in all that time I never crossed the line with married or committed men nor did I tolerate physical abuse.

All relationships begin with chance or intentional meetings, followed by polite conversation during which people get to know each other. By contrast, the predator uses these interludes as a fact finding mission. During these 'chats' abuse victims unconsciously reveal the source of their pain because venting provides temporary relief from constant self-recrimination.

Predatory men exploit the information they glean by assuring women that they are not like the other men who have abused them in the past. They then proceed to fabricate a reality which leads them both down a slippery slope. If the man is married, the oft said and well known lies soon follow. "I am leaving my wife. We are getting a divorce. I am only staying for the children."

Once the woman is thoroughly invested, the man begins to make overtures toward a sexual relationship. When consummated it becomes nearly impossible for the women to extricate herself from the adulterous affair.  In addition to the mental subjugation, the woman becomes physically bonded to the man by a combination of two powerful hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin, also know as 'love hormones.'

An adulturous couple are much like the characters from the medieval tale Tristan and Isolde, who accidentally consumed a love potion and are turned into hopeless addicts. Even though they realized that Isolde's husband, the king, would punish their adultery with death, they had to have their love fix. It also stands to reason that humans are conditioned by their experiences, which may be the reason some people tend to date the same “type" of partner over and over again.

“Some of our sexuality has evolved to stimulate that same oxytocin system to create female-male bonds,” according to neuroscientist Dr. Larry Young.  He posits that sexual foreplay and intercourse stimulate the same parts of a woman’s body that are involved in giving birth and nursing."

This hormonal hypothesis, is by no means proven fact, but this “cocktail of ancient neuropeptides,” like the oxytocin released during foreplay or orgasm," would help explain females’ desire to have sex even when they are not fertile." Being Human: Love: Neuroscience reveals all:  (Nature 457, 148 (8 January 2009)

In Western societies where polygamy is not an acceptable norm, the women who find themselves in the position of mistress remain quiet for fear of reprisal from the wives, and judgment from people who would blame them for their plight. Thus, many women spend years with married men who father their children and build parallel lives with them without fully committing. In the case of a friend, she only discovered her father's duplicity at his funeral when his other family arrived.

This post does not seek to absolve either adulterer of responsibility, but in the case of a man who preys upon the emotional weakness of a damaged woman, he is nothing short of a predator. His indifference to the collateral damage his actions cause to his primary family, to the extramarital children he fathers, and to the woman he is exploiting, is nothing short of malice aforethought.