The authorities in Sudan must immediately release and drop charges against 10 women who were arrested in the capital, Khartoum, charged with ‘indecent dress,’ said Amnesty International today.
At the time of the arrest, the women – who are Christian student aged between 17 and 23 from the war-torn Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan – were wearing either trousers or skirts. The Public Order Police stopped 12 women in front of the Evangelical Baptist Church where they had attended a ceremony on June 25. Two of the women were later released by police. The remaining 10 were charged and will be appearing in court next week. If they are convicted, the women could each face 40 lashes.
Amnesty International East Africa Deputy Director Sarah Jackson said:
“It’s outrageous that these women face a risk of being flogged simply for choosing to wear a skirt or a pair of trousers.
“The public order law is imposed in a way which is hugely discriminatory and totally inappropriate and violates women’s rights.
“Sudan must drop the charges and release these women immediately.
“A hem-line is not a crime.”
Amnesty International is also calling on the authorities in Sudan to repeal this ‘crime’ of ‘indecent dress’ set out in Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Act.
Names of women
The names of the ten women are as follows:
- 19-year-old Fardos Al Toum, (appeared in court on July 6 wearing another dress deemed indecent by the judge who immediately sentenced her to a fine of 500 Sudanese pounds or a month in prison
- 17-year-old student (unnamed) – has been transferred to the Juvenile Court
- 20-year-old Ishraga James
- 22-year-old Uthan Omer Eljaily
- 19-year-old Diana Yagoub
- 20-year-old Seema Ali Osman
- 23-year-old Inas Mohamad Elkomani
- 18-year-old Rehab Omer Kakoum
- 20-year-old Nasra Omera Kakoum
- Wigdan Abdallah Salih
With the exception of the 17-year-old student – whose case has been transferred to the Juvenile Court – the next scheduled court dates for the women are July 13, 16 and 17.
Article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Act gives the Public Order Police extensive powers to arrest any person for indecent dress, and the punishment if found guilty is 40 lashes, or a fine, or both.