Sudan - Social development

The social insurance system provides benefits for employees of firms with more than five workers. This program excludes domestic workers, home workers, self-employed, and family laborers. A separated program is in place for the armed forces and all public employees. The social insurance system is funded by employee contributions of 8% of wages, with employer contributions of 17% of payroll. The program includes old-age and disability pensions, workers' compensation, and survivor benefits. Retirement is set at age 60 for men and age 55 for women.

The fundamentalist Islamic government has redefined the place of women in society. Prior to that, the state sought to guarantee basic rights and freedoms to all women, both Muslim and non-Muslim. They were afforded opportunities in trade, the professions, and higher education. These freedoms are currently curtailed. Women have been removed from the civil service and have limited educational opportunities. They are no longer free to travel abroad without the permission of a male family member. Women who walk in public with an uncovered head or wearing slacks are often stopped and taken to police stations. Female university students in Khartoum were sentenced to be flogged, reportedly for wearing pants. Female circumcision (also referred to as female genital mutilation), although illegal, is prevalent, especially in the most drastic form. The city of Khartoum ordered the separation of the sexes in public to conform with strict Muslim law. This separation requires barriers between men and women at social events and bans them from sitting facing each other; the law dictates that the barriers be used at weddings, parties, and picnics and prohibits certain other practices perceived as inappropriate in an Islamic society. The government does not address the problem of violence against women.

Sudan's human rights situation remains dismal. Government and SPLA continue to regularly commit abuses, including massacres, kidnapping, enslavement, forced conscription, and rape. According to human rights groups, the practice of slavery has grown as a result of the civil war that has intermittently raged in the Sudan since its independence in 1956. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and political choice are repressed throughout the Sudan. The government's Arabization and Islamization policies are coercive.

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