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Sudan: repeal of public order laws a step forward for women's rights

© Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

“The transitional government must now ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished" - Seif Magango

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

“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 that are still in the criminal law, disbanding the public order police and courts, and abolishing flogging as a form of punishment.”

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

Amnesty is calling on the Sudenese authorities to 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 codes, and other matters concerning the conduct of individuals in private spaces.

Sudan must also 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.

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