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Married couple facing adultery trial following husband's conversion

13 Jan 2022

A Sudanese married couple originally from South Kordofan but residing in Gezira State, is on trial for adultery after the husband converted to Christianity. Nada Hamad Koko and her husband Hamoda Teya Kaffi’s trial began in 2021 in El-Bageer, Gezira State, and is set to continue this month.

The case began in 2018 when Ms Koko’s family discovered that her husband, Mr Kaffi, had converted to Christianity, and filed for a divorce. The law prohibits a Muslim woman from being married to a non-Muslim man, and based on the evidence of Mr Kaffi’s change of religion, the court granted the divorce and annulled the marriage.

After the divorce was finalised, Ms Koko returned to her family with the couple’s children, a son and daughter who are now aged five and three respectively. In August 2021, she decided to reunite with Mr Kaffi. Upon discovering this Ms Koko’s family filed a criminal case. The couple was arrested and the general prosecutor charged them with adultery.

Since there is now no penalty for changing one’s faith following the decriminalisation of apostasy in July 2020, Ms Koko informed the prosecutor that she had also converted to Christianity.  This renders her a non-Muslim under the law, and allows her to marry another non-Muslim. Nevertheless, the prosecutor deemed her conversion unacceptable, and the criminal case has proceeded to trial. However, had Ms Koko become a Christian while her husband remained a Muslim, their marriage would not have been annulled and the family would not have been separated.

The case is similar to that of Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who faced trial for both apostasy and adultery in 2014. The court ruled that she was a Muslim due to her father’s religious identity and despite the fact she had never practised Islam. Her marriage to her Christian husband was annulled, and both parties were found guilty of adultery.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We are deeply concerned by the criminal prosecution of Ms Koko and Mr Kaffi, whose case highlights the fact that the failure to reform Sudan’s legal landscape has opened the door to legal harassment. We call for the immediate dismissal of criminal charges against this couple, and urge further legal reform to ensure that the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change one’s religion or belief, is fully guaranteed to every Sudanese citizen. The fact that these cases are being prosecuted in the context of the military coup and a state of emergency illustrates the military’s objective of systematically obstructing and reversing the progressive advances made during the transitional period. This case also illustrates the importance of adopting a gender perspective within the broader legal reform process.” 



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