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Police arrest women protesting Sudanese flogging video

By Catholic Online
December 16th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sudanese women took to the streets to protest the distribution of an Internet video which depicted a woman being flogged by Sudanese police in a public place. Approximately 50 women sat down outside the justice ministry building, holding banners and surrounded by riot police telling them to move. The women were arrested - and denied access to their lawyers.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sudanese women took to the streets to protest the distribution of an Internet video which depicted a woman being flogged by Sudanese police in a public place. Approximately 50 women sat down outside the justice ministry building, holding banners and surrounded by riot police telling them to move. The women were arrested - and denied access to their lawyers.

Floggings carried out under that African nation's Islamic law are almost a daily occurrence. In Sudan, women are routinely whipped for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery.

However -- vague laws concerning women's dress and behavior are implemented inconsistently. One case that sparked international furor was when Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese U.N. official, invited journalists to her public flogging for wearing trousers.

The video, which has since been removed by YouTube, showed a crying Sudanese woman being lashed by two policemen. The woman is then made to kneel and the police laughed during the punishment.

"Humiliating your women is humiliating all your people," the women protestors shouted as they were being arrested.

Three plain-clothed security men threw the BBC correspondent to the ground, confiscating his equipment.

All the women were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Their lawyers were prevented from entering, but senior opposition politicians were allowed to go inside.

The women said they had tried to get permission for the protest but had been refused. "The authorities here take the law into their own hands. No one knows what happens inside these police stations," lawyers Mona el-Tijani says. "This video was just one example of what happens all the time."

Sudan's justice ministry said it would investigate whether the punishment was administered properly. It was not clear what offence the woman being lashed had committed.

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