World News

South Sudan cancels crackdown on tight pants

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) - South Sudan’s president shut down a police investigation Wednesday that saw scores of young women arrested for “disturbing the peace” by wearing tight trousers.

The women were arrested over the past week by police who said they suspected them of belonging to youth gangs known for drinking, fighting and public nudity.

But government officials, including the south’s gender minister, said they were angry at the way the women had been targeted and treated after arrest.

President Salva Kiir had ordered a “serious investigation” into the police crackdown, said a government minister.

Kiir also ordered the immediate release of any woman arrested under the operation in the south’s capital Juba, and said there were questions over its legality, Southern Minister for Presidential Affairs Luka Biong added in a statement.

Police arrested more than 35 women Sunday night alone, angering bystanders by the way they pushed them into two trucks.

The deputy police commissioner of Juba County, Raiman Lege, said they were disturbing the peace by wearing trousers that were too tight. The group was freed Monday without charge after appearing in court.

Sudan’s semi-autonomous south generally has a much more relaxed approach to women’s dress than the country’s Muslim north, with which it fought a two-decade war that was ended by a 2005 peace deal.

Reporting by Skye Wheeler; editing by Philippa Fletcher