Woman Publicly Whipped in Sudan

Sudanese human rights activists have posted a video online of a public whipping of a woman conducted by Sudanese police. The women’s crime, according to the police was getting into a car with with a man other than an immediate family member, a violation of Sudan’s “public decency” law.

After the coup of 1989 when Sudan’s existing ruler Omar al-Bashir seized power, a law was enacted (in 1991) which allowed for public floggings of women who violate Sudan’s “public decency” code, which can include a woman appearing publicly without a head covering, as in the recent case of journalist, Amira Osmane (whose case is pending), or, as was the case of journalist Luba Ahmed al-Hussein, for wearing pants.

Human rights activists have been campaigning for abolishment of this law, which is a common practice in Sudan.

France 24 reports that this current video was posted by a Sudanese opposition media organization on September 15, although the exact date of the incident is unknown. The location is assumed to be in the capital region of Khartoum due to the accents of the police officers that can be heard on the video.

About the incident, Nahid Jabr Allah, an activist for the Organisation for the Defence of Women’s and Children’s Rights in Sudan who is part of a campaign calling for the law on public order to be repealed, is quoted as saying, “It is unacceptable to subject a woman or a man to corporal punishment, regardless of the crime the person may have committed. It’s a flagrant attack on human rights. In this video, the tormentors wanted to humiliate this woman, because in addition to being whipped, she is exposed to curious onlookers. The treatment is really degrading.

“Punishment by lashes is, unfortunately, experienced by thousands of Sudanese women. The wording of the law on public order is very vague: it condemns indecent outfits and behaviours without defining them. Therefore, whether a piece of clothing conforms to public decency is entirely up to a police officer’s discretion. Any woman who wears pants or who doesn’t have her head entirely covered by a headscarf can be punished with up to 50 lashes.

“Authorities have set up a special police force, called the public order police, and special courts to deal with these sorts of offences. The legal process is unfair and rushed because in most cases, the accused is judged and sentenced on the spot without the presence of a lawyer, nor any sort of legal assistance.

“This is why we have been working for months on repealing this law, which is outdated and insulting to the Sudanese people. Currently, we are working on a campaign supporting a journalist, Amira Osmane, who was arrested for refusing to wear a headscarf. We will fight until these charges are dropped.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

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