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Sudanese singer arrested for ‘indecent dress’

October 22 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Singer Mona Magdi (File photo)
Singer Mona Magdi (File photo)

The Public Order Court in Khartoum yesterday postponed indefinitely the trial of popular Sudanese singer Mona Magdi after she was arrested on charges of wearing indecent dress on Saturday.

Magdi was detained by Khartoum police on the grounds of an old photo that was posted on social media sites showing her wearing trousers at a private party.

Political forces, civil society organisations and women’s groups condemned the trial as null, void, and blatantly targeting women’s rights and personal freedoms.

The women’s campaign against injustice called in a statement to form a unified platform to confront the law of the regime, saying that it oppresses women and humiliates them by various false claims.

Sudan’s strict Islamic morality laws criminalise “indecent dress” under Article 152 of the Sudanese Penal Code. Many women have been tried under Article 152 as it is applied to “Whoever does in a public place an indecent act or an act contrary to public morals, or wears an obscene outfit, or contrary to public morals, or causing an annoyance to public feelings shall be punished with flogging, which may not exceed forty lashes or with fine or with both.”

The crime is punishable by up to 40 lashes and a fine.

Oppression of women

In an earlier interview with Radio Dabanga to mark International Women’s Day in March, Dr Ihsan Fegeiri, head of the No to Women’s Oppression Initiative and a member of the Sudanese women's union said that greatest challenge currently facing Sudanese women is “the state-organised violence represented in the so-called public order measures such as indecent clothing and work which constitute a social stigma for girls in Sudan.”

Activist Winnie Omar faced similar charges in December 2017, when the Public Order Court in Khartoum dismissed all charges. Omar was arrested on December 10, hours after attending the hearing of 24 women who had been charged with indecency for wearing trousers at a party.

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