Sudanese women seek int'l support over repressive laws against them

Banjul- Gambia (PANA) -- Sudanese women Tuesday called on the African human right s system to assist them reform the repressive laws back home in Sudan.
In a paper they presented Tuesday at the 46th ordinary session of the African Co mmission on Human and peopleâ?s Rights in Banjul, the Gambia, a group of Sudanes e human rights activists called for an urgent reform of the public order regime i n Sudan.
In the paper, entitled "Beyond Trousers: The Public Order Regime and the Human R ights of Women and Girls in Sudan", the women described the challenges facing th e m on a day-to-day basis in negotiating the impact of the public order regime on t heir personal, social, economic and professional lives.
The public order regime in Sudan is a set of laws which, in addition to dealing with matters of public security, prohibit and enforce a range of behaviour from d ancing at private parties, to â?indecent dressâ? and intention to commit adulte ry.
These offences are enforced by a special police and court system with a reputati on for violence and summary â?justiceâ?.
Severe penalties, including caning and execution, are attached to these crimes.
â?The experience of women with the public order regime constitutes a litany of suffering and lost opportunity,â? said Hala Alkarib, the Executive Director of t he organisation.
â?Women from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised , live under daily threats of arrest and brutal punishment for ill-defined behav i our which should never be the subject of criminal law in a democratic society.
â?There is a need for courage,â? said Mr.
Albaqir Alaffif Mukhtar, of the Alkh atim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), who is leading the campaign to review the repressive laws.
He said "People should know that the Public Order Law, combined with the relevan t sections of the Criminal Law, contravenes not only the African Charter and the Sudanese Interim Constitution, but it also lacks cultural legitimacy.
"It is alien to the Sudanese culture and the well entrenched religious tradition s.
â? The paper, however, contains a series of recommendations aimed at bringing Sudan ese laws in conformity with the requirements of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
As a human rights instrument, signed and ratified by the Sudan, the African Char ter and its provisions form part of the Bill of Rights of the Sudanese Interim N a tional Constitution.

17 november 2009 14:17:00

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