Sudan: Decision to repeal public order laws a step forward for women’s rights

Reacting to the Sudanese government’s decision to repeal the public order laws, which governed among other things, women’s presence in public spaces, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango, said:

This is a big step forward for women's rights in Sudan.
Seif Magango, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“This is a big step forward for women’s rights in Sudan. The repeal of the public order laws was long overdue. Many women were arbitrarily arrested, beaten and deprived of their rights to freedom of association and expression under this discriminatory law.

“The transitional government must now ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished. This includes repealing the articles dictating women’s dress code that are still in the criminal law, disbanding the public order police and the dedicated courts, and abolishing flogging as a form of punishment.

... the entire oppressive public order regime must be abolished. This includes repealing the articles dictating women’s dress code that are still in the criminal law, disbanding the public order police and the dedicated courts, and abolishing flogging as a form of punishment.
Seif Magango, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

The authorities must amend the criminal law of 1991, especially Articles 77 and 78 governing consumption of and dealing with alcohol, and Articles 145-158 governing so-called “morality”, including consensual sex, dress code, and other matters on the conduct of individuals in private spaces.

The repealed public order laws gave the public order police extensive powers to arrest any person, particularly targeting women for dancing at parties, vending on the streets, and begging.  

Amnesty International calls on the government of Sudan to go further and ratify important instruments related to women’s rights including the Maputo Protocol governing the rights of women in Africa, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).