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ICC NOTE: Many Southern women have used brewing alcohol as a means to feed their children because so many are without their husbands. The article mentions that in one of the prisons in Sudan , there are 800-1100 women, mostly are Southerners. The article represents a small victory for the South. It is difficult to know how long these freedoms will last with the current government, but pray for these women that they would be able to find help for themselves and their children.

Sudan to release women jailed

30 May 2006

KHARTOUM, May 30 (Reuters) – Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has decreed all women imprisoned for brewing illegal alcohol should be released, ending a vicious cycle affecting southern widows trying to feed their families in Khartoum.

In comments late on Monday the state minister of interior, from the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said a presidential decree had been issued which meant that all the women would be free to go.

“(There is) a decree to release all women who have been convicted of making home-brewed alcohol — this is a decree … made by the president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir,” Aliyu Ayeeni Aliyu told reporters late on Monday night.

Sudan ‘s largest women’s prison in Omdurman holds between 800 to 1,100 inmates, mostly southerners who fled the north-south civil war to live in slums surrounding the capital Khartoum .

Women with as many as eight children, often widowed, make and sell home-brewed alcohol known locally as Aragi or Mireisse to feed their families.

Selling alcohol in Sudan is illegal under Islamic Sharia law, which was imposed in 1983 and was one of the catalysts for the war between the mostly Christian and animist south and the Islamist government in Khartoum .

Under the deal sharia has been lifted in southern Sudan and a new constitution enshrines religious freedom throughout the country. But a commission to protect the rights of non-Muslims in the northern capital Khartoum has yet to be formed and many are still arrested for making alcohol.