Video of woman’s public flogging angers Sudanese activists

 
 
A video has surfaced online showing Sudanese police repeatedly hitting a woman with a whip. For years, local women’s rights groups have called for the repeal of a law that allows police to publicly whip women they say are breaking public decency laws.
 
The video was posted on September 15 by a Sudanese opposition media organisation. The journalist who uploaded the video says someone sent the video to him via email, but does not know who the email address belongs to nor when the incident took place. Judging by the accent of those speaking in the video, it was shot in the region of the capital Khartoum.
 
WARNING: THESE IMAGES MAY SHOCK VIEWERS
 
 
The incident takes place in a courtyard – possibly at a courthouse – with a crowd of bystanders watching on. A police officer whips a woman seated cross-legged and facing a wall, all while the person filming and another person next to them giggle. At 39 seconds, an officer tells the woman, called Halima: “This is so you don’t get into cars anymore”. An Observer in Sudan who has watched the video says it is not unusual for a woman to be punished with lashes if she is found in a car with a man who isn’t from her immediate family (such as a husband, a father, or a brother).
 
Punishing women with lashes was written into law following the 1989 coup d’état and the arrival of Omar al-Bashir to power. However, this common practice only started attracting the international media’s attention in 2009, when journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was sentenced to flogging for wearing trousers. Since then, women’s rights groups have campaigned for the abolition of article 152 of Sudan’s law of 1991, commonly known as the law on public order, which allows for this type of punishment.
Contributors

“The tormentors deliberately wanted to humiliate this woman, because on top of the lashes, she is exposed to curious onlookers”

Nahid Jabr Allah is an activist for the Organisation for the Defence of Women’s and Children’s Rights in Sudan. She is taking part in a campaign calling for the law on public order to be repealed.
 
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.
 

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