Friday, November 27, 2009

More Islamic Brutality in Sudan

Here's another example of fundamentalist Islam's unthinking brutality: Silva Kashif, 16 year-old Sudanese girl, was recently stopped by police, dragged into court and tried in a matter of hours, then punished on the spot by the administration of 50 lashes. Her crime? Wearing a knee-length skirt in violation of the country's Shariah legal system. Making this travesty even more egregious, her parents were not notified by authorities under after the ordeal was already over. Furthermore, not only is Kashif too young to be legally sentenced to lashes even under Sudan's brutal legal system, she's also from the semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan which (at least nominally) does not acknowledge Shariah law.

Shariah is a system of Islamic religious law and, as is typical of religious legal systems, it is intensely preoccupied with concepts of sexual purity and decency. This is especially true in Sudan, where the enforcement of so-called decency standards is about as hard-line as you can get. 1 Dressing in a manner that causes "public discomfort" is crime in Sudan, and it shouldn't take much thought to come to the realization that "causing public discomfort" is a troublesomely nebulous definition. Apparently Ms. Kashif has retained legal council and is planning to sue for compensation, but it should never have even gotten to this point. The power of officials to randomly snatch up and flog any woman arbitrarily deigned to be dressed inappropriately has no place in any real legal system.2

If the Sudanese are so concerned about "decency", maybe they should worry about common human decency before they start hammering out of the details how short a skirt has to be to warrant a public beating.

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1.) Back in July, Lubna al-Hussein, a female media worker employed by the U.N., was arrested and fined by Sudanese officials for the terribly indecent act of wearing pants in public. Her arrest was part of a round-up of other pant-wearing women, ten of whom ultimately received lashings for their "crime".

2.) Boy, that sounds kind of familiar, huh?

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