'Trouser' case resumes in Sudan

Sudanese journalist could be sentenced to 40 lashes for "indecent" dress.

    Al-Hussein was arrested for wearing trousers
    in a Khartoum restaurant [Reuters]
    The trial of a Sudanese journalist, who could face a flogging for wearing trousers, has resumed after she waived the immunity she had been granted as a United Nations worker.

    Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein returned to court in Khartoum, the capital, on Tuesday to defend herself against charges that her dress was "indecent". 

    Dozens of women demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse, some of them wearing trousers in solidarity with al-Hussein.

    The journalist said she had resigned from her job to be able to challenge the law regulating women's clothing.

    "I am indeed enthusiastic to take a stand whatever the court decides. I am not looking for an innocent verdict", al-Hussein said on Monday.

    "I am taking a stand to change the unconstitutional law which contradicts the peace accord terms."

    Police arrested al-Hussein along with 12 other women wearing trousers in a Khartoum restaurant in July.

    Ten of them accepted a punishment of 10 lashes, but al-Hussein and two other women decided they wanted to go to trial.

    "If I'm sentenced to be whipped, or to anything else, I will appeal. I will see it through to the end, to the constitutional court if necessary," al-Hussein said.

    "And if the constitutional court says the law is constitutional, I'm ready to be whipped not 40 but 40,000 times."

    Refused immunity

    Al-Hussein could have claimed immunity as a UN worker but refused that option at a court hearing last week.

    She said she wants to get rid of Article 152, which decrees up to 40 lashes for anyone "who commits an indecent act which violates public morality or wears indecent clothing".

    She said the article "is both against the constitution and sharia [Islamic law]" and that nothing in the Quran says that women should be flogged over what
    they wear.

    "If some people refer to the sharia to justify flagellating women because of what they wear, then let them show me which Quranic verses or hadith [sayings of the Prophet Mohammed] say so. I haven't found them," she said.

    The UN staff union has urged Sudan not to flog al-Hussein, calling the punishment cruel, inhuman and degrading.

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, described himself as "deeply concerned" about the case and said flogging was a violation of international human rights standards.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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