Sudan fashion models guilty of 'indecency'

Readers of this blog may recall an incident last June when Sudan's Public Order Police, whose role includes enforcing "morality", arrested a couple of dozen people at a fashion show in Khartoum.

Yesterday, seven of the male models were convicted of "indecency" – for wearing make-up at the event – and each fined 200 Sudanese pounds (about $80). Under Sudanese law they could also have been sentenced to 40 lashes, but were spared that.

A woman was also convicted. The nature of her offence is unclear, though from the Reuters report it appears that she may have been the person who applied the make-up. Their lawyer is quoted as saying: "The court thought that they were indecently dressed ... The judge thought that wearing makeup could be offensive for men and allowing a woman to put makeup on men was against the law."

This follows a much-publicised case last year when a group of 13 women were arrested for wearing trousers in public. Ten pleaded guilty and were subsequently flogged. One of them, journalist 
Lubna Hussein, contested the charge amid a welter of international publicity. She was eventually fined and was jailed when she refused to pay. She was released after one night in jail when the journalists' union paid the fine on her behalf.

Arrests of this kind have become common in northern Sudan – police statistics show that 43,000 women were arrested in Khartoum province in 2008 for clothing offences.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 9 Dec 2010.