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Sudan: Amnesty International Calls on Government to Repeal Law Penalizing Women for Wearing Trousers

LONDON - As a Court in Khartoum prepares to resume its trial of Sudanese
journalist Lubna Hussein for wearing trousers, Amnesty International
called on the Sudanese government to withdraw the charges against her
and repeal the law used to justify the flogging of women for wearing
clothing deemed to be “indecent”.

“The manner in which this law has been used against women is
unacceptable, and the penalty called for by the law – up to 40 lashes –
abhorrent,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty
International’s Africa Programme.

Article 152 of the Sudanese Penal Code 1991 states, in summary,
that: “Whoever does in a public place an indecent act… or wears an
obscene outfit…shall be punished with flogging which may not exceed
forty lashes or with fine or with both….”

“The law is crafted in a way that makes it impossible to know what
is decent or indecent,” said Tawanda Hondora. “In practice, women are
routinely arrested, detained, tried and then, on conviction, flogged
simply because a police officer disapproves of their clothing. The law
is also discriminatory, in that it is used disproportionately against

In 2003, the African Commission ordered Sudan to amend Article 152
on the grounds that flogging amounted to state-sanctioned torture,
after eight women brought a case against the government when they were
arrested for publicly picnicking with male friends. The eight were
flogged in public using a wire and plastic whip, which reportedly left
permanent scars on the women. The government has made no moves to amend
the law since the Commission’s decision.

“No one should be flogged. This is cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and flies in the face of international law and common
standards of human decency,” said Tawanda Hondora.


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