A Sudanese Christian woman who was arrested for wearing trousers and narrowly escaped the punishment of 40 lashes is further damning evidence of the Sudanese government’s discrimination against non-Muslims, according to human rights groups. Fardos Al Toum, a 19-year old Christian woman was arrested by the morality police in front of a church in Khartoum, along with 11 other women, for appearing in public in trousers and skirts. A judge pronounced his guilty verdict on Monday, but abandoned the original punishment of 40 lashes after pressure from activists and campaigners. Nine other accused women will appear at separate trials throughout July, with the threat of flogging still hanging over them. The women, between 17 and 23 years of age, have gained the support of human rights groups who see this as an example of the ongoing prejudice against Christians by a Muslim government intent on enacting Islamic law. Elfatih Hussain, a lawyer representing the women, says the indecent dress law is being enacted too broadly. “They were wearing ordinary clothes that all girls their age in Sudan wear, and what happened to them is a systematic discrimination against women.” He believes a major judicial shift is necessary to stamp out such abuses of the criminal code.
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