Sudan trouser woman freed after day in jail

KHARTOUM — Woman journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein was freed on Tuesday 8 September after spending a day in jail for refusing to pay a fine for wearing "indecent" trousers, the Sudanese Union of Journalists said.


Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein - Photo: AFP

"She came out of prison. We paid the 500-pound (200-dollar) fine," Mohedinne Titawi, president of the union, told AFP.

Hussein was imprisoned on Monday 7 September after she refused to pay the fine imposed earlier the same day by a Khartoum court for wearing trousers deemed indecent. She could have faced one month in jail.

The journalist was wearing slacks when she was arrested along with 12 other women in a Khartoum restaurant in July.

Sudanese law in the conservative Muslim north stipulates a maximum of 40 lashes for wearing indecent clothing.

Women in trousers are not a rare sight in Sudan but the authorities can take offence at trousers which reveal too much of a woman's shape, leading to accusations from rights groups that judgement is arbitrary.

Ten of the women arrested in July on the indecent dress charge, including Christians, were subsequently summoned by police and each given 10 lashes.

Hussein led a public battle against the law, resigning from the United Nations, where she worked as a media officer, to stand trial.

Her case led to an outcry abroad and demonstrations at home.

The office of the UN human rights chief on Tuesday 8 September said her sentencing breached international law and exemplified the discrimination faced by women in Sudan.

"Lubna Hussein's case is, in our view, emblematic of a wider pattern of ... application of discriminatory laws against women in Sudan," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On Friday 4 September, Amnesty International urged the Khartoum government to withdraw the charges against Hussein, saying the law used to justify flogging women for wearing clothes deemed "indecent" should be repealed.

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