“Sudan has been exposed to the brutality of the dogmatic ideology of political Islam, and the people have been stripped of their dignity”

Hala Alkarib is the Director of the Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA). In this article she speaks honestly and passionately about political Islam and the plight of women in Sudan in ways that, if a non-Muslim in the West said the same things, they would be branded a “racist, bigoted Islamophobes.”

“Sudanese Women – You Can Beat Us but You Cannot Break Us,” by Hala Alkarib for Pambazuka News via AllAfrica.com, October 3:

Political Islam in Sudan remains very strong and manifests itself in floggings of Sudanese women that are justified by the constitution in the Indecent and Immoral Acts. Yet, Sudanese women remain defiant and resist these unjust and misogynistic laws

While the anger is accumulating in Sudan and peaceful demonstrators are being injured and killed by the Sudanese regime forces, this comes as a natural result of years of injustices.

Sudan has been exposed to the brutality of the dogmatic ideology of political Islam, and the people have been stripped of their dignity. The story here is just a tip of the iceberg. Sudanese women are the mirror of the cruelty and disparity imposed by the ruling regime.

For 25 years now, women in Sudan have been flogged publicly. The current Sudanese regime’s ideology was clear from day one; terrorizing women – which amounts to paralysing a whole nation. Like all dogma in political Islam, the regime sat and agreed that the road to secure their position was through controlling women’s bodies, minds, existence and interaction in public.

Their misogynistic ideology is based on women being problematic and in need of being disciplined and controlled: that women are both dangerous and the main instigator of immorality, equally responsible for all evil in society, hence the need to be told how to behave in public.


‘It’s not enough to talk to them; we have to punish them and install fear in their minds because they are not intelligent and are spiritually unfit. Their fathers and husbands are unable to control them.’

These are the beliefs that underpin Article 152 of the Sudan criminal code, ‘Indecent and Immoral Acts’ – on the basis of which Amira Osman, a Sudan activist, is currently facing trial, and under which thousands of invisible poor women have already been tried, sentenced and publicly lashed. Their laughter is seen as a crime, their presence provoking sin.

This is how the regime vaguely drafted Article 154 of the criminal code, ‘Practicing Prostitution.” The article defines a ‘place of prostitution’ as “any place designated for the meeting of men and women between whom there is no marital relationship, or kinship, in circumstances in which the exercise of sexual acts is probable to occur”.

Hundreds of women are being charged under this article every day, inside their homes and work places. The breadth of interpretation effectively allows women in any public place in which a woman can be in the same room as an unrelated man to be tried under this article.

The offence of ‘possession of materials and displays contrary to public morality’ of Article 153 has exposed thousands of young women to the madness of the public order police and deprived them of simply living normally, and with dignity.

The Sudan public order laws are written in a vague and elusive way in order to allow judges and the law enforcers to employ their own interpretations of the law. This has turned the legal system into self serving machinery manipulated and twisted against women’s presence and participation in public.

Sara is a 25 year old artist and school teacher at a private school. Early this year, while on her way back home, she was stopped and picked up by the public order police. She was wearing trousers and a long sleeved T- shirt.

She was sexually assaulted, verbally humiliated and then charged under Article 152 for wearing trousers. According to her story, by the time they picked her up, there were twelve other women inside the vehicle all of whom had been picked up randomly by the public order police while walking on public roads. None of them had committed any crime, all were just walking along minding their own business.

They were detained for 24 hours, their phones were confiscated. In the morning the judge called them out by name and when her name was called Sara says the judge asked her, ‘what do you want 40 lashes or paying 1000 SDP?’

She said she only had ten pounds, then he yelled ’40 lashes’ and the soldier grabbed her. They took her to the yard inside the detention block, made her sit on the sand floor and they started whipping her. ‘After 10 extremely painful lashes’, she said. ‘I was numbed and I could only hear the mocking and the laughter of the soldiers standing around and asking the flogger to beat harder.’


Forty-four year old Halima brews alcohol locally and sells it to men from all over Khartoum. She is the breadwinner of her family of six children and two elderly parents, all of whom depend on her for their care. She said she has been flogged and jailed many times, ‘every time they come they take away the alcohol, re-sell it to consumers or they drink it, and beat me for making it.’


Amena, 56 years old, sells tea next to a private hospital. She says, ‘they keep taking my kettle and cups all the time, sometimes they flog me, or if I have some money I give it to them. These days I have found a place next to the graveyard to sell my tea. I still get customers, but the police rarely come close to me – I think the dead in our country are more powerful than the living.’

The tales of these women reflect more or less how millions of Sudanese women are living.


Hundreds of women flocked to court to attend Amira Osman’s trial, a Sudanese activist who was charged under Article 152 for not covering her hair with a scarf. Her trial has now been postponed until 4 November 2013. These women will not give up their humanity and dignity, despite the whip being held to their heads.

The battle against Sudan’s public order regime, which has been infused within the criminal code of the country, has been going on for years across the country. This regime has been utilized to repress women, to compromise their livelihoods, to impoverish them, to limit their participation in public life, sport, cultural activities and mobility, as well as to limit their political participation.

The Sudanese discriminatory laws and the public order regime are affecting communities for generations to come by imposing the subordination of women in the mindset of the younger generation, and hence taking away any potential for progress and peace.

Robert Spencer in PJ Lifestyle: Canada (and the U.S.) Welcome Polygamy
Canada: Muslims practicing polygamy -- "no enforcement" of anti-polygamy laws
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  1. says

    Egyptian revolution: Another Domino Effect!!!

    …The violent protests continued for the second day and spread in various parts of Khartoum’s twin capital city of Omdurman, soon turning into calls for the downfall of the regime when protestors shouted “Go… The people want to overthrow the regime”*.

    *This is the same “battle cry” that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt!


  2. says

    Personally, what I would love to see is a large group of women accost the men who are beating other women, take the whip from their hands, and start whacking the daylights out of the abusers, all the while asking: “How do YOU like it??!!!

  3. says

    “Sudan has been exposed to the brutality of the dogmatic ideology of political Islam, and the people have been stripped of their dignity”

    Unfortunately, the “dogmatic ideology of political Islam” is perfectly orthodox.


    Hala Alkarib is the Director of the Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA). In this article she speaks honestly and passionately about political Islam and the plight of women in Sudan in ways that, if a non-Muslim in the West said the same things, they would be branded a “racist, bigoted Islamophobes.”

    Yes”and this is why you won’t hear feminists or human rights activists on the West speaking out against this oppression”even though pious Muslims want to impose Shari’ah on the West, as well.,

  4. says

    The misogyny is not found just in Islamic countries but also in our own Western Leadership.

    Imagine for a moment that the video that made the rounds recently of a woman on the ground being lashed by the police for some infraction applicable only for the fact that she was a woman. Two human beings, one male and one female, the former abusing the latter for a gender-specific ‘crime’. Now change the same two human beings, to a white policeman flogging a black man who is tied to the ground, for the simple reason that in that country, black men are considered in need of constant correction. Do you not think we would have the Pope talking and condemning such acts and the UN issuing warnings and even sanctions until such a time that these practices are stopped? What about Human Rights campaigners and activists, would they not be protesting at the Sudanese embassy? Would there not be some kind of ultimatum given to Sudan if it does not stop infringing on human rights? The fact that this does not happen even when you have the institutionalized persecution of women for the sole reason that they are women, speaks volumes. These things have gone on unabated for decades and millions of women are suffering. Yet the Western civilised world does nothing, which shows that some humans are more equal than others and that indeed misogyny is found at the highest echelons of power throughout the world.

    And please let us not use the excuse that “it is their religion’ – would we really say that if their religion required human and child sacrifice? I do not think so.

  5. says

    Geppetto wrote:

    In reading about the atrocities and seemingly mindless violence committed on a daily basis throughout the Muslim world a pattern emerges that suggests a strong link between the savagery and the innate uncivilized behavior exhibited by prepubescent boys and adult psychopaths…

    This is very true, Geppetto. The only places in the West where you find behavior approaching the of islam is in violent street gangs and prisons.