Muslim women living under Sharia law are facing a lot of stigma in Sudan if they brew illicit alcohol for their livelihood.

Zakia is a Muslim woman living under Sharia law, stigmatised as a criminal for brewing and selling illicit alcohol to feed the family that her father abandoned outside Sudan’s booming capital.

It is a simple recipe and one cooked up by thousands of women in the squalid camps and impoverished neighbourhoods of those who fled years of war across southern, western and eastern Sudan.

Put dates and baking powder in water. Cover with a plastic bag to fend off the perennial dust, then bury underground for two to five days depending on the season. Heat over a fire and drip the piping hot liquid through a sieve.

Add water.

One to two hours later, 23-year-old Zakia has enough bottled aragi to flog to local labourers for a week, earning enough cash to keep her, her mother, brother, niece and seven sisters in food and clothes.

She got married last year. But the relationship failed and they live apart. With a street attitude akin to the Bronx, she slices through the air with a defiant hand when asked if her husband looks after her financially.

“I don’t even want to see his face,” she says, recoiling in distaste, catching a whiff of aragi as she sits back on a plastic chair while her sisters giggle and plait their hair in the corner.


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