Sudanese police lashed a woman 75 times on Tuesday after a court found her guilty of marrying a man without her father’s consent, her lawyer and rights activists said.
The woman, a native of the war-torn Darfur region, was flogged at a police station in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, after having served a six-month prison sentence.
The punishment was meted out less than a week after another Sudanese court condemned a teenager to death for killing her husband who had allegedly raped her.
“She completed her six months in jail and today she was flogged 75 times” as ordered by the court, lawyer Azza Mohamed Ahmed said.
Ahmed said her client was put on trial after the father refused to approve her marriage to a man of her own choice.
“She and the man then got married and lived together for a year,” the lawyer said, adding that the couple now have a two-month-old baby.
“Her family then filed a case against her, accusing her of living with a man illegitimately and of having sex outside of marriage.”
Ahmed said the court found her client guilty of marrying without her father’s consent as required under the Muslim country’s law.
Her husband was sentenced to two years in prison.
“Today her punishment is complete,” the lawyer said, adding that the woman was released and would stay at the house she lived with her husband.
Amnesty International, contacted by this reporter, confirmed the woman’s conviction and flogging, saying it would follow up the case.
A women’s rights activist said she witnessed the flogging.
“I was holding her baby in my hands as the ordeal unfolded in front of me,” said Tahani Abbas, a member of Don’t Oppress Women, a Sudanese NGO.
“This was the most painful sight, especially for a women’s rights activist,” she said.
Last Thursday, another court sentenced to death Noura Hussein Hammad for killing a man she had been forced to marry at the age of 16.
According to Amnesty, Hammad, now 19, stabbed her husband in self-defence after he raped her.
But a court found her guilty of “intentional murder”.
Women’s rights activist Amal Habbani condemned Tuesday’s flogging.
“The woman was flogged because she married a man of her choice,” she said.
“This shows the condition of Sudanese women. They are oppressed by law.”
Activists have stepped up a campaign against forced unions and the marriage of underage girls, a common phenomenon in Sudan where Amnesty says the law allows girls to marry from the age of 10.
They say Sudan’s application of Islamic sharia law is often random, and that punishments like flogging women only came into effect since President Omar al-Bashir’s regime took power in a 1989 coup with the backing of Islamists.