On 7 September 2009, Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese journalist, was sentenced to one month in prison, or a fine of 500 Sudanese pounds (about USD$200) for wearing trousers. Lubna appealed against the decision. One year later, the Constitutional Court is yet to make a decision regarding her case.
Lubna Hussein was arrested on 13 July 2009 at a restaurant in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum and charged together with some 13 women under Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Act for wearing “indecent or immoral dress.” Lubna Hussein defied the public order regime, under which women and men are punished for their dress and behaviour in public, appointed a lawyer and took her case to a normal court.
Following the Court’s decision on 7 September, Lubna Hussein refused to pay the fine. She was taken to Omdurman women’s prison, and despite her refusal, the Journalists Association paid for her release. Upon her release, Lubna Hussein announced that she would continue to challenge the decision of the Court and to denounce the flogging of women in Sudan.
Exactly one year later, and after having gone through all the stages of appeal the Constitutional Court has not yet issued a decision regarding Lubna’s case.
The punishment for indecent or immoral dress or behaviour in public includes up to 40 lashes, and/or a fine. However, in November 2009, a girl aged 16 at the time, was sentenced to 50 lashes. The decision was made by a public order court judge, immediately after she was arrested in the streets of Khartoum for wearing a knee-length skirt.
Ten of the women, who were arrested with Lubna Hussein in the restaurant that day, were punished with 10 lashes and a fine of 250 Sudanese pounds. Lubna Hussein was among the first to raise her voice against the practice of flogging in Sudan and to denounce article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Act.
Thousands of people, mainly women and girls, are reportedly arrested every year in Khartoum, for wearing what is arbitrarily deemed “indecent” clothing. However, the majority remain silent because of the trauma of their arrest and punishment, or out of fear of the stigma they would suffer if people knew of their arrest.
Most of them are sentenced to flogging by public order courts, denied access to a lawyer and lashed within hours.
Sign the petition below calling on Sudanese authorities to:
- Repeal the public order regime including the public order laws and article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Code because they are vague and discriminatory in practice, and fail to adhere to Sudan’s human rights obligations;
- Fulfil Sudan’s human rights obligations under international law, including Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 5 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights;
- Remove the penalty of flogging for crimes under the public order regime as it is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.