Sudanese woman on trial for wearing 'indecent' clothing

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A woman is on trial in Sudan for failing to cover her head and wearing "indecent" clothing, in a case Amnesty International says may violate international law.

Amira Osman Hamed, 35, was arrested Aug. 27 and charged with "indecent or immoral dress" for refusing to wear a headscarf.


Amnesty International said police arrested Hamed in Jabal Awliya, where she works as a civil engineer.

Hamed was convicted of violating the same law in 2002, when she was arrested for wearing pants, but only paid a fine at that time.

If convicted in the current case, she could be sentenced to receive as many as 40 lashes.

"Amnesty International opposes flogging as it violates the absolute prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international customary law," the organization said on its website. "The prohibition is also contained in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As a signatory to the convention, Sudan must not act in a manner inconsistent with the object and purpose of the convention."

Nearly 100 people, including members of civil society groups and women's rights activists, were present at Hamed's first court session on Sept. 1, the Sudan Tribune reported Wednesday. The session was canceled after the judge fell ill.


The French ambassador to Khartoum has met with Hamed's defense team.

France's interest in the case stems from a 2009 incident in which a Sudanese journalist, Lubna Hussein, was charged with public indecency after she and 12 other women were arrested in Khartoum for wearing slacks at a restaurant.

France granted Hussein residency, but she insisted on being tried on the charges, which attracted international attention.

She was convicted, but rather than the usual flogging punishment, a judge ordered her to pay a $114 fine.

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