The Council of Ministers of Sudan approved last week, a draft legal amendment to abolish the Public Order Law, one of the most prominent pieces of legislation restricting personal freedoms in the country.
The law, which was enacted in 1996 by the Muslim Brotherhood regime under the ousted president, caused much controversy at local and international levels during recent years.
Feminist groups and women’s rights defenders in Sudan welcomed the cabinet decision, describing it as culmination of the Sudanese women’s struggles, and a new victory for the December popular revolution that ended the rule of Omer Al Bashir.
The notorious Public Order Law not only represented legislation that Sudanese women and girls considered to be highly restrictive of their freedom, but also exposed them to violence and grave abuses over the past quarter century.
The Public Order law criminalizes personal behaviours such as indecent dress, alcohol, obscenity, scandalous acts, seduction, and other immoral conduct, and gives discretionary power to police officers to judge people’s tastes in choosing their clothes and manner of expression.
This legislation is flawed and does not take into account Sudan’s cultural diversity.
The recent political change in the country has brought high hopes for Sudanese women for an end to the era of discrimination and oppression, as well as to all forms of violence against them.
They now look forward to life in a democratic environment which, following the abolition of repressive legislation such as the public order law, promises them equality and empowerment.
Amnesty International described the step 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
We urge the government to go further and ratify important instruments related to women’s rights
The transitional government must now ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished
* Public Order Law should be sent to the trash of the history.