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Sudan: “I won’t cover my hair !”

An update on Amira Osman Hamed’s case

Wednesday 13 November 2013, by siawi3


from Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Amira Osman Hamed, confronting ‘morality laws’ in Sudan

Worsening human rights situation in Sudan remains a source of regional concern. Attention was drawn to this saddening trend again when the Centre for Human Rights hosted a team of visitors from Sudan on 31 October 2013. Amira Osman Hamed who came in the midst of other human rights activists from the country stunningly related how she faces trial in Sudan for breaking article 152 of Sudanese Penal Code requiring all women to cover their heads. For daring to be different, Amira faces the possibility of being flogged upon conviction. Article 152 arbitrary prescribes 40 lashes for ‘any conduct or clothing in violation of public decency’. The nature of the trial does not allow her any chances of an appeal against the decision of the court once found guilty as charged. This generally raises concern about the deprivation of the dignity of Sudanese women and the gagging of the media in reporting on human rights situation which has been on the increase since morality laws took effect in Sudan following the coming into power of President Omar al Bashir.

In particular the ‘morality laws’, its prosecution and the manner of implementation are entirely in violation of respect to dignity of human persons guaranteed under international instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to which Sudan is a state party. Also, it is a total disregard for the decision of the African Commission which has found that flogging is a violation of article 5 of theACHPR and the consistent recommendations by the Human Rights Committee of the ICCPR calling for abolition of corporal punishment in Sudan.

In response to the narratives by Amira and her colleagues, the Centre for Human Rights volunteers to work with the legal team representing Amir at the court in Sudan and offers its views on exploring the possibility of lodging a case on behalf of Amira before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It is hoped that Sudan will retrace its steps from this worrying spate of human wrong into fulfilling the human rights of its citizens.

Amira, who visited South Africa, last week, returned to Sudan for her trial on 4 November 2013. On the trial date, instead of quashing the case for want of diligent prosecution, the court decided to adjourn the matter without setting out the date for further hearing. The implication of this is that the matter remains active and continues as a repressive strategy to restrict the freedom of Amira or others who wish to follow her path in confronting the Sudanese ‘morality laws’ in the name of human rights.



“I won’t cover my hair !”


by Maryam Namazie

Amira Osman Hamed says:

I’m Sudanese. I’m Muslim, and I’m not going to cover my head.

Today, 19 September, she faces trial in the Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab and will be flogged if convicted.

She says she’s prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of a “Taliban”-like law.

It would be good if secularists could take some time out of their busy schedule defending the veil and burqa to defend the likes of Amira.

Here’s a petition you can sign (thanks to Jane J for forwarding it to me).


Save Amira Osman Hamed from flogging in Sudan

The trial of Amira Osman Hamed starts on Monday 4 November and if convicted she could be sentenced to flogging in Sudan for refusing to cover her hair with a headscarf.

Email the Sudanese Minister of Justice and ask him to drop the charges immediately.

On 27 August Amira was arrested by the Public Order Police. The 35-year-old civil engineer and women’s rights activist was working in the outskirts of Khartoum when 10 policemen approached her and threatened to take her to the police station for her ’crime’. She was then charged under Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Code with ’indecent or immoral dress’ and faces the possibility of receiving up to 40 lashes if convicted.

Amira’s court case, scheduled for 19 September, was postponed to give the Attorney General enough time to consider the request to drop all charges.

We need to act quickly as the Sudanese authorities are making up their minds now. Stand with Amira and the women of Sudan who face discrimination and disproportionate punishment every day.
Appeal to the Sudanese Minister of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dousa, to drop all charges against Amira Osman Hamed.

Amnesty is against the use of flogging, which particularly affects women in Sudan, including girls under the age of 18. The practice is cruel, inhuman and degrading and in some cases judges have exceeded the legal limit and punished women and girls with up to 50 lashes. Flogging is not only wrong and humiliating, but can lead to long-term psychological and physical scars.

Write to the Minister of Justice now.

For offline actions, please send appeals before 4 November 2013 to:

HE Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir Office of the President People’s Palace PO Box 281 Khartoum, Sudan Email: info Salutation: Your Excellency

Mohamed Bushara Dousa Minister of Justice PO Box 302 Al Nil Avenue Khartoum, Sudan Email: mb.dosa Salutation: Your Excellency

Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed Ministry of Interior PO Box 873 Khartoum, Sudan