SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

Should Women Wear Pants?

Posted by shadmia on August 28, 2009

Lubna Hussein 2

Should women wear pants? Not if you are Muslim and live in the Sudan. Lubna Hussein found this out the hard way. She was arrested and faces up to 40 lashes and an unlimited fine if she is convicted of breaching Article 152 of Sudanese criminal law, which prohibits dressing indecently in public.

It all began when Lubna was among a crowd listening to an Egyptian singer in a  Khartoum area restaurant in Sudan when policemen rushed in. They ordered Lubna and other women to stand up to check what they were wearing, and arrested all those who had pants on. Lubna, who was wearing loose green slacks and a floral headscarf, was taken to the police station.

Lubna Hussein 1

“There were 13 of us, and the only thing we had in common was that we were wearing trousers,” Lubna says. “Ten of the 13 women said they were guilty, and they got 10 lashes and a fine of 250 Sudanese pounds (about $100). One girl was only 13 or 14. She was so scared she urinated on herself.”

Lubna asked for a lawyer and before her first court appearance, she had 500 invitation cards printed, and sent out emails with the subject line: “Sudanese journalist Lubna invites you again to her flogging tomorrow.”

As it turns out Lubna works as a public information officer with the United Nations and, because of her job, she was protected from prosecution. She nevertheless decided to make a stand for Sudanese women, regardless of the punishment she might face.

“Afraid of what? No, I am not afraid, really,” she insists. “I think that flogging does not hurt, but it is an insult. Not for me, but for women, for human beings, and also for the government of Sudan. How can you tell the world that the government flogs the people? How can you do that?”

“It is not for me. It is my chance to defend the women of Sudan. Women are often arrested and flogged because of what they wear. This has been happening for 20 years. Afterwards some of them don’t continue at high school or university, sometimes they don’t return to their family, and sometimes if the girls have a future husband, perhaps the relationship comes to an end.”

The court was flooded with women’s rights activists, politicians, diplomats and journalists, as well as well-wishers. During the hearing, Lubna announced that she would resign from her job as a public information officer with the United Nations in order to fight the case. The judge agreed, and postponed the trial.

Lubna and Supporters

On the second attempt to hold the trial the authorities again postponed it under the pretext of attempting to determine whether Lubna Hussein, who arrived at court wearing trousers,  had truly revoked her immunity from prosecution when she resigned from her UN position. The new trial date was set for Sept. 7th.

Speaking shortly before appearing in court, Ms Hussein said:

“Flogging is not pain, flogging is an insult to humans, women and religions. If the court’s decision is that I be flogged, I want this flogging in public.”

After court had adjourned she spoke to her supporters who had gathered outside. A defiant Lubna said:

“They want to check with the UN whether I have immunity from prosecution,” she said outside the courtroom. “I don’t know why, because I have already resigned from the United Nations. I think they just want to delay the case.”

Lubna was asked what will happen if the judge decides, as is still possible, that she was indecently dressed, and sentences her to 40 lashes?

Lubna

“I will take my case to the upper court, even to the constitutional court,” she insists, measuring her words. “And if they find me guilty, I am ready to receive not only 40 lashes, I am ready for 40,000 lashes. If all women must be flogged for what they wear, I am ready to be flogged 40,000 times.”

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One Response to “Should Women Wear Pants?”

  1. […] for this crime is a fine of 250 Sudanese pounds (about $100) and 40 lashes. For all the details of the Lubna Ahmed Hussein case click here. “She’s in jail now,” said her lawyer, Nabil […]

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