Segments in this Video

A Question of Rape: Introduction (02:30)


In Mauritania, women who make an accusation of rape are at risk of imprisonment for zina, extramarital sex. An 18-year-old was raped and imprisoned for zina and infanticide, though her child was still-born. The United Nations reported improved justice for women in Mauritania after international laws were enforced, but this is not the case.

Continued Injustice for Women (03:17)

Mauritania is growing rapidly and struggling to adapt traditional Islamic values to international human rights laws. Mauritania's first female lawyer, Fatimata M'Baye describes how Sharia has integrated with modern law but still punishes women unfairly, Women are still sentenced to prison for zina after being raped.

Legal Support for Women (04:21)

Zeinabou Moussa opened a crisis center for women who were raped and has seen more victims since the ratification of CEDAW. Aisha was attacked and raped, but risks imprisonment if she cannot prove she is innocent. Two male officials claim Aisha's actions are damaging to Islamic morality and she will be convicted if she presses charges.

Inadequate Laws (04:36)

At Nouakchott Women's Prison, 18-year-old Badia faces life imprisonment for zina and infanticide; four Senegalese women await trials. Police enforce Sharia law each night. Article 307 in the penal code states that pregnancy can only result from consensual sex, so Badia's claim of rape is dismissed.

Unjust Sentences for Women (03:27)

Of the four Senegalese women, two are accused of prostitution and sentenced to two years; the other two are charged under Article 306. Moussa argues the government needs to clearly define all forms of sexual violence. Despite ratifying CEDAW, there are no women in public office and a woman's word in court has little value.

Interpreting Sharia Law (02:44)

Mauritanian law enforcement officers and judges are uneducated about the international law and CEDAW. Sharia law has the potential to protect human rights for women, but men in power do not interpret it in that way. Imam Hamdine Ould Tah explains that Sharia was written with the intent to protect men and women equally.

Credits: Mauritania: A Question of Rape (00:19)

Credits: Mauritania: A Question of Rape

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Mauritania: A Question of Rape

Part of the Series : Women on the Frontline
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In the Islamic state of Mauritania, punishments are severe for any kind of sexual relationship out of marriage—an abuse known as "zina." Rape is undefined in the country's law, and for a woman to allege she has been raped is to run the risk of imprisonment. Unsurprisingly, few do. "A Question of Rape" tells the story of women both in prison and out who are trying to bring change. Featured is Fatimata M'Baye, the first female lawyer in Mauritania, who is part of the move to blunt harsh interpretations of Sharia: "As far as Mauritania is concerned, there was a time when we only applied Sharia...we're not there anymore—we are at a stage where we have a hybrid law," which, she explains, is trying to combine two—Sharia and secular—sources of law.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL150218

ISBN: 978-1-64481-017-0

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

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