Sudan punishes a female journalist for wearing pants

webTo many high school students, it seems as if the dress code is continuously getting stricter and stricter as the school years pass. There are always going to be those who follow the rules, and those that “bend” them. For those who go against the school dress code and get in trouble for it, there may be a major penalty or just a slap on the wrist. No matter the consequences, there will always be that rebel who continues to break the regulations. These rebels rarely realize how fortunate of a society they live in. To woman like Lubna Hussein and many other women it is not a matter of just what is allowed in school, but what is allowed in the general public.

Pants are considered “indecent” under the strict interpretation of Islamic law, adopted by Sudan’s Islamic regime which came to power after a takeover led by President Omar al-Bashir in 1989.

After a July 13 raid, a Sudanese judge convicted Lubna Hussein, a female journalist for the United Nations, and 13 other women for violating public indecency laws at the Khartoum Café in Sudan. Their ‘indecent apparel’ was loose-fitting slacks. The judge fined Hussein 500 Sudanese pounds ($209), but did not impose the well- known and feared penalty of flogging.

Hussein told MSNBC that she is “prepared to receive 40- thousand lashes if that’s what it takes to abolish the law.” Her case made international headlines and attracted protesters outside the courthouse; many of the protesters were women who wore pants in unity and defiance. Yet to the surprise of many, the majority of the protesters were men.

According to MSNBC, Amal Habani, a female columnist for the daily Ajraas Al Hurria(Bells of Freedom), and one of about 50 protesters said, “We are here to protest against this law that oppresses women and debases them.” Sudanese police fired tear gas and beat women protesting outside the Sudanese court during the trial. Police engaged quickly to disperse about 50 protesters who were supporting Lubna Hussein in her battle for righteousness. According to MSNBC no injuries were immediately reported but witnesses said police wielding batons beat up one of Hussein’s lawyers, Manal Awad Khogali, while keeping media and cameras under control.

Hussein was granted immunity because she worked for the United Nations. In an attempt to use her arrest as an opportunity to draw attention to the punishment for dress code violations in Sudan she quit her job at the UN.
“I think that she is more respected at a greater rate by her subjecting herself to the same punishment as the other women and quitting,” said junior Sam Pokraka.

Back at home now, Lubna Hussein spoke of taking her campaign to one of Sudan’s newspapers, where she writes a regular column. She acknowledged, however, that her words might not make it past government censors.