All seven girls were among a group of 12 Christian females who were arrested on June 25 while on their way home from a service at El Izba Baptist Church in Khartoum simply because they were wearing trousers and skirts, which police deemed to be immoral dress.
Two of the girls were released from police custody without charges, while the remaining 10 were forced by authorities to strip out of their clothes and later charged with indecent dress under Article 152 of the Sudanese Criminal Code. Advocates for the girls said they range in age from teens younger than 18 to early 20s.
On Thursday, seven of the girls were tried separately before three different judges. While four of the girls were found innocent, three others were fined $82 and had it reduced to just $8.
Two other girls have already previously been tried. One was tried on July 6 and was hit with a fine of about $82. Another was tried on July 14 and also fined $82. It was reported that if they were unable to pay the fine, they could be imprisoned.
The remaining girl left to be tried will receive her day in court next week.
“While we welcome the fact that four of these women were found innocent, we question how some have been found guilty when they were all dressed similarly and entirely in keeping with the law and Sudanese customs,” Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary application of the law and the exploitation of its ambiguity to deliberately target these innocent women.”
Although the fines might seem like a slap on the wrist, American Pastor Bill Devlin, who is in Khartoum, told The Christian Post that the girls could have received a more brutal sentencing.
“As I am here in Khartoum, Sudan, being updated on the situation regarding the 12 Christian teenage girls arrested, it is encouraging that this single situation is drawing to a close,” Devlin, who pastors the Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx, said in a statement.
“The attorneys representing these girls did a tremendous job in saving them from getting lashed. My prayer is that the Khartoum government will do all they can to allow all Sudanese peoples to exercise their faith freely. I encourage western pastors to visit Sudan to encourage the church here in Khartoum and tell Sudanese believers that they are not forgotten.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post – Samuel Smith