Yesterday, Lubna Hussein was found guilty of indecency and fined. The Sudanese woman wasn’t showing her goodies nor her ta-tas. Her indecency crime… get a hold of this, was wearing trousers. In July, Hussein was arrested at a party with twelve other women for wearing trousers and faced the possibility of 40 lashes. Rather than sentencing her to lashes, the court ordered her to pay a fine of $500 pounds or face a month in prison. Ten of the other women arrested with Hussein have pleaded guilty and have been whipped. How did Hussein escape the whip? Perhaps it was the fact that Hussein, a former reporter, was working for the United Nations at the time of her arrest.
Since her arrest, Lubna has publicized her case, asked for media support and even posed in those “indecent” green trousers for a few photo ops. In her quest to be treated like every Sudanese woman, Hussein resigned from her United Nations job to give up any legal immunity that would’ve prevented her getting preferential treatment. By doing this she had hoped to prove her innocence and challenge the antiquated law. Since 1990s, there have been thousands of girls beaten. Under the current law based heavily on Islamic decency regulations, the term indecency is vague and gives individual police officers a wide latitude to determine what is acceptable for women to wear.
(Lubna Hussein shown wearing the green trousers in question)
According to her lawyer, the trial proceedings were quickly conducted and didn’t allow Lubna’s defense team to plead it’s case- as if the guilty verdict and fine had been decided prior to the proceedings. This sentence would let the government keep face, but at the same time marking Hussein as indecent while not enacting a brutal lashing that the world would see. Let’s face it, if she had been lashed there would have been all kinds of uproar around the world. It’s a sad commentary that since the other ten women arrested alongside her were faceless and nameless to the world not an even an eye was batted when they were lashed.
During the the court session, clashes erupted between Lubna’s women supporters and Islamic fundamentalists who shouted religious slogans and even calling all the supporters “prostitutes”. Riot police were brought in and cleared the scene but beat up some protesters with their batons and arrested 40 women protesters. Once convicted, Hussein publicly declared that she will not pay the money and go to prison.
Indecency cases are not uncommon in Sudan where there is a huge disconnect and large cultural gap between the mostly Christian south and mostly Muslim & Arab north. Hopefully, this worldwide attention will force the government to update their laws as this is a clear violation of women’s rights. Though no country is without their flaws, I am very grateful and fortunate that I live in a country where this sort of practice doesn’t occur.