Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese reporter whose column for the popular Arabic newspaper Al-Sahafa, “Men Talk,” regularly criticizes Islamic fundamentalists and the Sudanese government, was sentenced to 40 lashes for the crime of “wearing pantaloons.” Authorities made use of a provision in the Sudanese Criminal Procedure Code punishing women for acts “against the public norms and order and violation of public morality” — and according tho their reading of the code even pants as modest as Hussein’s, pictured above fit the bill.
According to Hussein, 20 or 30 police officers stormed into a popular restaurant in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and arrested all of the women wearing pants, giving them 10 lashes on the spot.
Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, has already been charged with war crimes for his alleged complicity in the Darfur genocide, and the increasing international pickup of Hussein’s story is likely to muddy his reputation in the world community even further.
The women’s punishment reeks of intimidation, but they were fortunate to have among their ranks a journalist who knew how to get coverage the BBC and other news agencies. Otherwise, their unjust punishment might have been executed silently and behind the scenes, like too many others.
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