Sudan: repeal law on “indecent” clothing
‘(1) Whoever commits, in a public space, an act, or conducts himself in an indecent manner, or a manner contrary to public morality, or wears an indecent or immoral dress, which causes annoyance to public feelings, shall be punished, with whipping, not exceeding forty lashes, or with a fine, or with both (2) The act shall be contrary to public morals if it is regarded as such according to the standard of the person's religion or the custom of the country where the act takes place.’
Article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Code of Sudan
A woman in Sudan can be stopped by the police, sent before a judge, and sentenced to a public flogging of forty lashes for wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
Earlier this year Amira Osman Hamed, a computer engineer and women’s rights activist, drew international attention after she was charged with ‘indecent dress’ for refusing to wear a headscarf. In 2002 she was convicted for wearing pants. Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein was arrested with 12 other women and jailed for a month in 2009 for wearing pants. In this video she talks about why she chose to wear pants, knowing what the consequence would be.
Article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Code of Sudan, one of a number of laws and practices that make up Sudan’s ‘Public Order Regime,’ allows the police to arrest people for what they are wearing. This regime, which is designed to outlaw behaviour deemed as offensive or immoral, is enforced by Public Order Police and Public Order Courts.
Thousands of people, mainly women and girls, are reportedly arrested every year in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, for wearing what is arbitrarily deemed “indecent” clothing. The majority of those arrested remain silent, traumatized by their arrest and punishment or fearful of stigmatization if people knew of their arrest.
Article 152 violates the right to freedom of expression, and allows the Public Order Police to harass or arbitrarily detain people based on nothing more than disapproval of someone's clothing. The punishment for indecent or immoral dress or behaviour in public includes up to 40 lashes, and/or a fine. Article 152 is applied disproportionately to women and girls, and is illustrative of a broader pattern of gender discrimination in Sudan. Amnesty International opposes flogging as it violates the absolute prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. As a party to the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sudan is required to ban flogging as a punishment.
Repealing Article 152 is a concrete step that can be taken to promote gender equality and show respect for freedom of expression in Sudan.
Please write to the Minister of Justice and urge him to repeal Article 152 of the Criminal Code and drop the charges against all those who have been charged under this law. Further urge him to abolish flogging. Encourage him to do his utmost to promote the full realization of the human rights of women and girls.
His Excellency Mohamed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Salutation: Your Excellency
Send copies to:
His Excellency Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir
Office of the President
PO Box 281