By: Alexandra Kinias
Caution: Contents of video are very graphic.
A very disturbing video of a woman flogged in Khartoum, Sudan was circulated over the Internet few days ago. The barbaric act committed against the Sudanese woman caught the world by surprise. Under the Islamic Law that governs the African country this punishment is not uncommon. However what created the global buzz was that for the first time this medieval punishment, that was carried out by two police officers, was exposed. Someone in the spectators recorded the incident on what seems to be a cellphone camera. The video that hit the internet few days ago was seen by tens of thousands of viewers. The horrific flogging of the woman, who no one knew at the time the video was released of her exact crime, was atrocious. Some speculate that she was punished for wearing pants, which under Sudanese Islamic Law is considered indecent and is punished by public flogging. Others say that the woman was punished for committing adultery.
In the video, which was shot inside the Khartoum police headquarters, the woman’s agonizing screams echoed as she pleaded and moaned in pain when the long brutal whip slashed her body and face, unmercifully. But what was more shocking than this heinous act was the reaction from the policeman who was laughing when he noticed that he was being filmed.
This brings back to memory the incident of Sudanese reporter and UN employee Lubna Hussein. In 2009, Hussein was arrested for wearing pants in public and was sentenced to 4o lashes. Hussein invited other reporters to attend her flogging and to write about it. Due to the controversy and international exposure her case attracted, the verdict was reduced to a $200.00 fine which Husssein refused to pay.
The circulation of this video on the internet had caused a great embarrassment to the Sudanese government which, to save face, announced that an investigation is taking place in the case. The shameful whipping was criticized by Sudanese Women’s Union. Thirty of its members marched in the streets of Khartoum to protest this disgraceful act against women, but they were detained as they tried to hand a petition to the ministry of justice and denied access to their lawyers.
The Islamic Sharia Law that was implemented in Sudan in 1983 punishes those who are convicted of crimes such as drinking alcohol, wearing indecent clothes or adultery to be lashed in a public spectacle. It is a shame and crime against all humans that a person should be treated in such an inhuman way under any law regardless what label it has on it.