Jailed for wearing pants

September 8th, 2009 by

KHARTOUM - A SUDANESE woman was found guilty of indecency and jailed on Monday for wearing trousers in a case that has attracted worldwide outcry, lawyers said.

Lubna Hussein was arrested at a Khartoum party in July with 12 other women and had faced the possibility of 40 lashes for wearing trousers deemed indecent. Ten of the women were flogged in July, she said.

Women have often been convicted of similar offences under Sudan’s Islamic decency regulations in recent years and sentenced to beatings, say Hussein’s supporters. They say she is the first to challenge such treatment.

The court in downtown Khartoum ordered her to pay a fine of 500 Sudanese pounds (S$299), but she was later jailed for a month after refusing to pay, her lawyer Kamal Omar told reporters.

Hussein’s case was seen as a test of the decency regulations, which many women activists say are vague and give individual police officers undue latitude to determine what is acceptable clothing for women.

A former reporter working for the United Nations at the time of her arrest, Hussein has publicised her case, posing in loose trousers for photos and calling for media support.

Reached by telephone after the verdict, Hussein said she would refuse to pay the fine: ‘I will not pay the money, and I will go to prison.’ Lawyer Omar told Reuters on Monday his client had been taken to the capital’s Omdurman Women’s Prison, adding supporters would step up their campaign to call for an end to the indecency law. He said he also planned to appeal against the sentence.

‘She was found guilty, but we know she is not guilty …

This is a clear violation of the constitution, of women’s rights, and the peace agreement,’ said Yasser Arman, a a senior member of the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement who attended the trial.

Ten of the other women arrested with Hussein pleaded guilty were whipped, Hussein said earlier. — REUTERS

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