Lubna Hussein returns to court over Sundanese ‘indecency’ laws
Sudan is facing international condemnation as the trial resumes today of Lubna Hussein, a Muslim woman who faces a flogging for breaking indecency laws by wearing trousers.
Speaking to The Times before her court appearance, Ms Hussein, 34, a widow, said that she was overwhelmed by the public support she has received in her fight to change a law that she says discriminates against women.
“I am so happy when I see all of the support from around the world,” she said by telephone from the Sudanese capital Khartoum. “It is not support for Lubna Hussein but for human rights and women’s rights in Sudan and elsewhere in the world.”
Ms Hussein wants to force the repeal of Article 152 of Sudan’s penal code, which orders a fine and flogging for women dressed in an “indecent” manner.
She was arrested with 12 other women on July 5 at a restaurant in Khartoum. Public order police rounded up the women and subjected them to a humiliating public inspection of their clothing before arresting those in trousers.
Ten of the women were flogged and fined, but Ms Hussein, a former journalist, and two others demanded to see a lawyer.
Ms Hussein has sought to publicise her case and resigned from her job with the UN, which would have afforded her immunity from prosecution. “I wanted to be treated as any other Sudanese woman,” she said.
Ms Hussein is being lauded as a human rights campaigner and for her refusal to accept the punishment quietly.
It has also shaken the Islamic establishment in Khartoum. At her court appearance in August riot police used teargas to disperse a crowd of mostly female supporters.
“I want to campaign for women’s rights, because as a Muslim and a woman in an Arab country I know how hard it can be. We women try to get an education, to work, but the Government doesn’t support us,” she said.