Beyond Trousers: The Public Order Regime and the Human Rights of Women and Girls in Sudan

This discussion paper maps the experiences of Sudanese women around the application of what is colloquially known as the “public order” regime in Sudan. It reveals that the public order regime, in all its manifestations—its underlying values, prohibitions, enforcement mechanisms, and penalties- -is having a significant impact on the lives of many women from all walks of life in Sudan, most particularly the poor, marginalised and those who challenge the status quo. It offers an analysis of these experiences in the context of Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) and other African norms and standards and suggests that the public order regime is inherently incompatible with both Sudanese constitutional requirements and international obligations. Taken as a whole the practice of the public order regime undermines profoundly the capacity of Sudan to realise its obligation to ensure the right of all its people to “economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind” (article 22, the African Charter).

Strategic Initiative on Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)