Women in Sudan risk flogging if their trousers offend
Christian and Muslim women face the risk of flogging for wearing trousers in Khartoum .
09/08/2009 Sudan (AFP)-The thousands of women who wear trousers every day in streets and cafes of the Muslim capital’s Christian enclaves all run the risk of a flogging if police decide their clothes are provocative.
The penal code, which stipulates a maximum of 40 lashes for indecent clothing, was challenged by Lubna Ahmed Hussein, the journalist and former UN worker who defiantly went to jail on Monday after refusing to pay a fine for wearing slacks in public.
In her case, the court opted for the 500 Sudanese pounds (200 dollars) fine rather than a flogging, but ten of the 12 other women who were arrested in a Khartoum restaurant at the same time as Hussein have been whipped for their offence.
Last year nearly 43,000 women were detained for indecent clothing offences in Khartoum region, where five million people live, according to a police official cited by Hussein’s supporters.
“Lubna Hussein’s case is, in our view, emblematic of a wider pattern of … application of discriminatory laws against women in Sudan,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday.
Several of the women arrested with her were Christian and have a legal right to non-Muslim arbitration, though Sudan’s north has been subject to Islamic law since 1991 — two years after the coup that brought President Omar al-Beshir.
It is not in force in the mostly Christian south, which became autonomous after a 2005 deal that ended a two-decade civil war with the north.
“It undermines the basic rights of Sudanese, Christian and Muslim,” he said, adding that he also believes it violates an interim constitution drawn up in 2005.