A shocking video showing a Sudanese woman publicly flogged by a police officer surfaced on line last month and its appearance has renewed calls for Sudan to repeal its so-called “Public Order Law” which among other repressive provisions, allows police whip women for violations of “public decency.”
The law took effect after a 1989 military coup installed General Omar al-Bashir as Sudan’s president. He remains in power today.
Though no information has been made available about the source of the video, observers say it appears to take place in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum and that judging by comments that can be heard on the video, the victim’s supposed crime was getting into a car with a man who was not her husband or immediate family member.
The Public Order Law prohibits women from riding in, or entering, vehicles with men to whom they are neither relayed nor married.
Abdul Rahman Al Khidir, the governor of Khartoum State, said that though the woman’s flogging as seen in the new YouTube video was not properly carried out, she was “rightfully punished according to the Shar’ia law.”
Shar’ia law is the legal system based on Islamic religious codes. See the video below (warning: disturbing images).
Though it has been in effect for more than two decades, Sudan’s Public Order Law did not come to world attention until 2009 when a female journalist, Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, was sentenced to flogging for the crime of wearing pants, which are considered indecent apparel for women in the country.
Under international pressure, Sudan’s government waived the flogging sentence and ordered al-Hussein to pay a fine instead.
Nahid Jabr Allah, of the activist group Organization for the Defense of Women’s and Children’s Rights in Sudan, said that the Public Order Law gives police a right to abuse women at their whim.
“The wording of the law on public order is very vague,” she said. “It condemns indecent outfits and behaviors without defining them. Therefore, whether a piece of clothing conforms to public decency is entirely up to a police officer’s discretion.”
Sudan has a special police unit, known as the Public Order Police, whose only job is to enforce the Public Order Law.
SOURCES: France 24, Sudan Tribune, Assyrian International News Agency, YouTube