SUDAN: Authorities investigate whipping of woman on YouTube video
A YouTube video showing a Sudanese woman pleading and crying as she was flogged in public by police officers has prompted an inquiry by the country's judicial authorities.
"An investigation was started immediately into the lashing of a woman as seen on a website, and the implementation of sanctions that go against what is outlined in the criminal code," the judiciary said in a statement published in a number of Sudanese state-run newspapers.
The video, which has been circulated around the Internet over the last two days, shows a woman in a long black dress and a headscarf being whipped by two blue-uniformed police officers in what appears to be a government yard; a Sudanese flag stands nearby.
One of the officers is heard saying that the unidentified woman's sentence is "50 ... lashes," while others laugh in front of the camera when they realize that the incident is being filmed.
Sudanese authorities initially downplayed the event. Deputy Police Chief Adel Al Agib told the Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV channel that the timing of the video was intended to coincide with the Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 in order to defame the country.
However, the governor of Khartoum, Abdul Rahman Al Khedr, later told the independent Blue Nile TV channel that the woman was "rightfully punished according to the sharia law, but the violation was in the manner her punishment was carried out."
Khedr said his country won't allow the incident to be politicized. In northern Sudan, where the law is based on Islamic sharia, the punishment for crimes such as adultery, prostitution or running a brothel can include up to 100 lashes.
It is unknown what the woman's crime was, but in the beginning of the video she is asked to either bend down or face two years in jail. The whipping was criticized by the anti-government Sudanese Women's Union, which issued a statement calling the incident a "shame, disgrace and humiliation to all Sudanese women."
About 30 women were arrested Monday while protesting against the incident in front of the Ministry of Justice in the capital of Khartoum.
In 2009, Sudanese reporter and U.N employee Lubna Hussein was arrested and sentenced to 40 lashes for indecent clothing after she wore loose jeans in public. The sentence was condemned by local and international human rights organizations, leading to the commutation of the sentence to a fine of $200.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Video: Sudanese woman lashed in public. Credit: YouTube