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Sudan, Repeal of Public Order Laws is a Step Forward for Women’s Rights

On 29 November, the Transitional government in Sudan announced it would repeal the public order laws that governed, among other things, women’s presence in public spaces and led to the arrests, beatings and prison sentences of many women activists and ordinary women found “guilty” of dancing at private parties, selling goods on the street, and begging.

It is an important step forward towards the dismantling of a discriminatory regulatory system that has deprived Sudanese women’s right to freedom of demonstration and expression for decades.

However, much more needs to be done. First of all, the 1991 Criminal Code must be amended, especially by repealing Articles 77 and 78, that determine alcohol consumption, and articles 145 and 158 on so-called “morality” that govern consensual sex, dress code, and a woman’s individual conduct in private spaces.

Furthermore, regional and international agreements on women’s rights need to be ratified including, for example, the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

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