A court sentenced a young woman to 20 lashes and a fine after she wore trousers in public.
Fardos Al-Toum and nine other female students — all Christians — found themselves under arrest in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital,. According to the group’s lawyer, Muhamad Mustafa, officials arrested the women for wearing jeans and long shirts.
According to reports from CNN, when the women came to court, the judge deemed their outfits to be “indecent or immoral dress.” Despite their similar charges, the women received.
The judge sentenced Al-Toum, 19, to a fine and 20 lashes. The judge ordered four of the nine other women to pay fines. Al-Toum and one other woman will pay the most, which is equivalent to around $100. Four other women in the group were cleared of all charges. One woman is still awaiting trial.
Once reports of the sentences surfaced, people across the globe have criticized the women’s treatment. In the U.K., Amnesty International started an online campaign where people can sign their name on a letter condemning Al-Toum’s lashing sentence. The letter, which already has more than 40,000 signatures, will be sent to Sudanese authorities.
“Flogging and other forms of corporal punishment should never be used as punishment — they constitute torture, and should not be inflicted as part of a justice system,” the rights group stated. “Moreover, these women have committed no crime — they have instead been subjected to random, vaguely worded, discriminatory laws.”
The Guardian reports this is not the first time a woman in Sudan faced harsh punishment for her clothing. In 2009, 13 Christian women and United Nations officer Lubna Hussain were arrested and threatened with 40 lashes each for wearing trousers.
Amal Habbani, an activist with the group No to Women’s Oppression, estimates 40,000–50,000 women are arrested and flogged every year in Sudan because of their clothing.
“The cases are usually against women in the marginalized areas in Khartoum, and amongst poorer women,” Habbani told The Guardian.