22 August 2017

Sudan Court Rules - Girls in Trousers Not 'Disgraceful Dress'

Photo: Faustin Niyigena/The New Times
Nyirarukundo, 18, finished 27th out of the 35 participants in the women’s 10,000m on her Olympics debut in Rio but hopes to do much better at Tokyo 2020.

Khartoum — Sudan's Public Order Court has dismissed charges against two girls, accused of wearing disgraceful dress, citing a lack of evidence by the police and that "trousers are not disgraceful".

The court dismissed the charges over a "lack of evidence provided by the community security" during the session in Khartoum yesterday. "Wearing trousers is not a disgrace," the judge concluded, citing the fact that doctors in hospitals also wear pants during shifts.

"The court will ask the two girls to write a pledge not to repeat their act, because they were out late at night."

The complaint was filed by a policeman of the community security police. He informed the court that on 1 July at 1am, a police patrol found three girls sitting on Nile Avenue in Khartoum. They took them to a police station in Mugran area for wearing trousers and a short dress.

Under Article 152 of the Sudanese Penal Code, which is widely controversial in the country, many women have been tried. The crime is punishable by up to 40 lashes and a fine.

Article 152 is applied to "Whoever does in a public place an indecent act or an act contrary to public morals, or wears an obscene outfit, or contrary to public morals, or causing an annoyance to public feelings shall be punished with flogging, which may not exceed forty lashes or with fine or with both." The Sudanese government has been under pressure from human rights organisations to abolish the article.

In addition the Commissioner of Khartoum issued a decree forbidding women and men to wear trousers or shorts respectively in June 2016. The Sudanese No Oppression Against Women Initiative has strongly denounced the decree.

Incidents

In June one year ago, 16 young women were detained by the Public Order police in Khartoum and charged for wearing inappropriate clothing. They were brought to trial the next day, sentenced to a number of lashes and the payment of a fine, after which they were released.

Five members of the Sudanese Athletics Team were convicted in Khartoum in December 2015 for wearing 'inappropriate dress'. The Public Order Court of Jebel Awlia in southern Khartoum state sentenced each of them to pay a fine of SDG500 ($82).

In June 2015, 12 Christian women were held by the public order police when leaving the Baptist church in Khartoum North after a religious ceremony. They wore trousers and skirts.

In 2009, France granted residency to Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein, who was charged with public indecency after she was detained in a Khartoum restaurant, along with 12 other women, for wearing trousers.

Sudan

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