Woman faces 40 lashes for indecency

July 29, 2009 12:00 am

, KHARTOUM, Jul 29 – A Sudanese woman journalist was preparing to be flogged 40 times in Khartoum on Wednesday for wearing "indecent" clothes, with 10 women already whipped for similar offences against Islamic law.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who writes for the left-wing Al-Sahafa newspaper and works for the media department of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, was arrested in Khartoum earlier this month after being caught wearing trousers.

"I received a telephone call from the authorities saying I must appear at 10 am (0700 GMT) on Wednesday in front of the judge," Hussein told AFP on Tuesday.

"It is important that people know what is happening," Hussein said in an invitation to journalists to attend her court appearance and flogging.

"They will lash me 40 times, and also fine me 250 Sudanese pounds (100 dollars)."

Hussein said she was at a restaurant on July 3 when police came in and ordered 13 women wearing trousers to follow them to the police station.

Ten of the women were summoned to a police station two days later and were lashed 10 times each, according to Hussein, who wears a hijab or Islamic headscarf.

The women whipped earlier this month included some from animist and Christian south Sudan where the Muslim north’s Islamic or sharia law does not apply.

Police have also cracked down on another woman journalist, Amal Habbani, after she wrote an article condemning Hussein’s treatment.

Habbani wrote an article for Ajrass Al-Horreya newspaper following the arrests entitled "Lubna, a case of subduing a woman’s body."

"I am waiting for a decision," Habbani told AFP after she was charged with defaming police, a charge which can carry a fine of up to several hundred thousand dollars.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said the charge against Habbani stemmed from her claim that Hussein’s arrest was "not about fashion but a political tactic to intimidate and terrorise opponents."

Unlike many other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf, women have a prominent place in Sudanese public life. Nevertheless, human rights organisations say some of Sudan’s laws discriminate against women.


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