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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Truth about Who Wears the Pants in Sudan

FEMINISM/RELIGION - Yesterday a Sudanese judged convicted a woman of wearing pants outside and fined her approx. $200 US.

Originally the penalty was supposed to be 50 lashes for violating the public indecency law, but thanks to international condemnation the judge was pressured to lower the penalty.

Lubna Hussein, a journalist, was one of 13 women arrested back on July 3rd in Khartoum. Ten of the women were afraid to go to trial, agreed to the charges and were fined & flogged for wearing pants. Hussein and two others however decided to go to trial

"I will not pay a penny," says Lubna Hussein while still in court custody, who said Friday she would rather go to jail than pay any fine.

"I won't pay, as a matter of principle," says the journalist. "I would spend a month in jail. It is a chance to explore the conditions of jail."

The case made headlines in Sudan and around the world and Hussein used it to rally world opinion against the country's strict morality laws based on conservative interpretations of the Quran. Hussein says the law is un-Islamic and oppressive to women.

Outside the courtroom police arrested dozens of female demonstrators who were also wearing pants. They all say they want to go to trial and denounce the unfair laws.

Meanwhile Amnesty International called on the Sudanese government to withdraw the charges against Hussein and trash the law which justifies "abhorrent" penalties on women and say the law should be scrapped because it allows for state-sanctioned torture.

Human rights groups in Sudan say the law also violates the 2005 constitution which guarantees equal rights and freedoms.

In 2003 eight Sudanese women were publicly flogged with plastic and metal whips leaving permanent scars for going on a picnic and wearing pants.

This is just one of many unfair laws in Sudan that have yet to be overturned.

"When I think of my trial, I pray that my daughters will never live in fear of these police ... We will only be secure once the police protect us and these laws are repealed," says Lubna Hussein.

Hussein says she's ready "to receive (even) 40,000 lashes" if that is what it takes to abolish the law.

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