For years, women's rights activists have been refuting victim-blaming arguments and proving that sexual harassment knows no dress code.

However, despite the huge strides the feminist movement has made, some people continue to blame harassment on women's clothing and behavior.

So, when Sudanese activist Weam Shawky watched a Muslim cleric say that wearing revealing clothes is the main reason behind harassment, she stood up and made some powerful counterarguments.

The confrontation came as part of Deutsche Welle's Shabab Talk, a political talk show for the youth hosted by journalist and television presenter Jaafar Abdul Karim. 

Shot in Sudan, the episode saw a group of activists tackle the question "What does the Sudanese woman want today?".

The episode also included the head of the Sudan Scholars Corporation, Mohammed Osman Saleh, who has a degree in Islamic Sharia.

Among the main topics discussed was sexual harassment, which caused a heated discussion on set. In response to the activists' viewpoints on the matter, Saleh said revealing attire is the "first reason" behind sexual harassment, which is why Islam orders both men and women to wear modest clothes.

He went on to say that women harass men as well, as he has personally met a man who was harassed by a woman, adding that the man was wearing revealing clothes at the time of the incident.

"He is the sick one, not the clothes I am wearing"

Shawky, who was sitting among the audience, asked for a chance to respond to Saleh's opinions and went on to make a striking impromptu speech about women's rights in the country.

When Abdul Karim first asked her about her age, she said, "28... 30... 40... Because up until my mother's age of 65, while she is wearing the black garment, she is still being harassed on the street."

Shawky then blasted men for objectifying women and emphasized the latter's right to freely decide what to wear, saying, "He (the harasser) is the sick one, not the clothes I am wearing".

With the audience cheering her on, Shawky demanded all forms of equality, from equal pay to equality in personal status laws. 

Watch the full episode here

The sexual harassment discussion can be found at minute 18:25. 

The clip has since been making the rounds online

With people applauding her bravery

And thanking her for standing up for women

"I can totally relate to her anger and frustration"


But people have conflicting opinions

" - Wow, kudos to the strong women in Sudan.

- Where's the strength?  She is impolite and does not respect herself nor the ones around her."

A few users didn't approve of her attitude

But supporters were quick to defend her

"You can't insult someone and expect her to respond respectfully"

"The context here is important because before this, the sheikh was telling Azza (one of the debaters) that it is apparent from her attire that she has been harassed. He mocked her, took the topic lightly, and a significant portion of the audience laughed. Shawky's anger is justified. You can't insult someone and expect her to respond respectfully."

Sudan is the 9th worst country in the world for women

Women in the Muslim-majority country face a wide array of human rights violations, placing it among the world's ten worst countries for women, according to the Peace and Security Index. 

Article 152 of Sudan's penal code stipulates that "whoever does in a public place an indecent act… or wears an obscene outfit… shall be punished with flogging which may not exceed forty lashes or with fine or with both".

"In practice, women are routinely arrested, detained, tried and then, on conviction, flogged simply because a police officer disapproves of their clothing. The law is also discriminatory, in that it is used disproportionately against women," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme.

In addition, according to the Human Rights Watch, Sudanese security forces subject women's rights defenders to several forms of abuse, such as sexual violence and intimidation, in an attempt to silence them.