Women win right to show their faces
WOMEN in the Sudan are celebrating — legally — after a law that banned them from drinking alcohol or wearing clothing deemed to be “revealing” was repealed.
Sudan’s transitional government announced it had overturned the sharia-based moral policing law called the Public Order Act that was one of the most hated acts of the three-decade rule of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
“This law is notorious for being used as a tool of exploitation, humiliation & violation of rights,” Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok tweeted in reference to the overturned law. “I pay tribute to the women and youth of my country who have endured the atrocities that resulted from the implementation of this law.”
The Public Order Act was first passed in 1992 by al-Bashir’s Islamist government and enforced only in the capital Khartoum, before being applied nationwide four years later. As well as banning “revealing” clothing and the drinking of alcohol, a variety of other “offences” fell under the Act. Those convicted of violating the law could face prison sentences, fines, lashing and confiscation of property.
For decades, human rights activists have decried the law and argued that its vague language gave the police and judges leeway to prosecute women, who later played a crucial role in the mass protests that culminated in alBashir’s overthrow in April.
Amnesty International welcomed the repeal of the controversial law as “a step forward for women’s rights”.
The London-based rights group also called on the transitional government to overturn other repressive clauses in criminal laws, including the use of flogging as a form of punishment.
Sudan’s sovereign council and cabinet announced the decision after a 14-hour long meeting. It also banned alBashir’s National Congress Party and confiscated all the ex-ruling party’s assets.
The sovereign council grew out of a power-sharing agreement between the country’s ruling generals and protesters demanding sweeping political change. Under the deal, the council and the civilian-led cabinet share legislative powers until a new parliament is formed.
Mr Hamdok tweeted that the move to dismantle alBashir’s party is not the outcome of “a quest of vengeance, but rather to preserve and restore the dignity of our people who have grown weary of the injustice under the hands of NCP, who have looted & hindered the development of this nation”.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the uprising against al-Bashir, hailed the move as “an important step” towards the establishment of a democratic state in Sudan.
Sudan’s Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari announced the law would transfer all assets and funds of al-Bashir’s party to the state treasury.
“With this law, we will be able to retrieve a lot of funds that were taken from the public treasury to create institutions that acted as a parallel state,” Mr Abdul-bari told reporters after the meeting.
Al-Bashir was arrested after his overthrow in April. A verdict in his corruption trial is scheduled for December 14.
Sudanese woman Alaa Salah was propelled to internet fame as the leader of protests against former president Omar al-Bashir, which have finally resulted in the repeal of the notorious Public Order Act.