This video of young woman being brutally whipped by a police officer in public has inflamed the Sudanese Web since it was posted online last Wednesday. Our Observer says the footage shocked even the most conservative Sudanese people.
This isn’t the first time that a woman is submitted to a public flogging for “indecent” behaviour in Sudan (in this case, the young woman was reportedly sentenced for wearing trousers). A little over a year ago, the case of Lubna Hussein
, a Sudanese woman who defied the courts to carry out her public whipping despite the immunity granted by her status as a UN staffer, made international headlines. Under pressure, the Sudanese government eventually pardoned Lubna, but as the recent video shows, other women aren’t so lucky.
On December 14, a group of about 30 women who tried to deliver a protest letter to the justice ministry in Khartoum were arrested and set free after several hours. Our Observer was one of the protesers, she was not arrested by says she was beaten by a police officer.
WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THIS VIDEO IS VERY DISTURBING.
“We refuse to let these police officers go unpunished”
Mariam Ezzedine is a member of the opposition National Democratic Alliance and an activist in the organisation "Stop the Oppression of Women"
that was created following the Lubna Hussein trial.
This video was shot inside Khartoum’s police headquarters, in the presence of a police judge [according to Sudanese websites, the scene took place on December 5]. More than the sentence itself, what shocked the public was the particularly vicious way in which it was carried out. The video shows the policemen whip the young woman all over her body, including her face, which is against the law. Also, you clearly hear policemen laughing while the woman screams in pain. The officers don’t seem in the least bit disturbed by the presence of a camera: one even asks that the people who are watching the punishment be filmed, although he hides his own face when the camera turn towards him.
"What exactly 'indecent clothes' means is left for police to decide"
This kind of punishment is authorised by the law. According to Paragraph 152 of Criminal Act (1991), “whoever commits an indecent act or an act that breaches public morality or wears clothes that are indecent or would breach public morality which causes annoyance to public feelings is liable to forty lashes or fine or both punishments.” The problem is that exactly what “indecent clothes” means is left for police to decide. Nothing is to stop them from arresting women on a whim, or even from carrying out a sentence without a fair trial or allowing the accused to be represented by a lawyer.
Since the Lubna Hussein trial, we have repeatedly demanded that this article is repealed, because it is too vague and unjust in its application. Six months ago, we tried to file an appeal with the Constitutional Court, but our request was not even examined. Every time we speak out or gather in public, we are systematically harassed and even arrested by police.
Despite these obstacles, we are determined not to give up. These practices are unjustifiable acts of oppression against Sudanese women, and we refuse to let the police officers in this video go unpunished."
Post written with France 24 journalist Sarra Grira.