Cairo — Sudan’s transitional government announced on Friday that it has overturned a moral policing law and moved to dissolve the country’s former ruling party, fulfilling two major demands from the country’s pro-democracy protesters.
Rights groups say the Public Order Act targets women and is a holdover from the three-decade rule of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
“This law is notorious for being used as a tool of exploitation, humiliation & violation of rights,” Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok tweeted in reference to the overturned law. “I pay tribute to the women and youth of my country who have endured the atrocities that resulted from the implementation of this law.”
The Public Order Act was first passed in 1992 by al-Bashir’s Islamist government and enforced only in the capital, Khartoum, before being applied nationwide four years later. The Shariah-inspired law criminalized a wide range of individual behavior including revealing clothing and drinking alcohol. Those convicted of violating the act could face prison sentences, fines, lashing and confiscation of property.
For decades, human rights activists have decried the law and argued that its vague language gave the police and judges leeway to prosecute women, who later played a crucial role in the mass protests that culminated in al-Bashir’s overthrow in April.