Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The Sudanese regime surely didn’t reckon with the phenomenon of Lubna Hussein, the journalist arrested along with 12 others in Khartoum in July and charged with “indecency” for wearing trousers in public.
Not only did she refuse the flogging sentence that 10 of those women accepted, she went to court to contest the charge, determined to show it has no basis in Islamic teaching and using her clout as a journalist to speak out for so many other women who can’t.
The entire world was watching when a judge waived the flogging sentence Monday and ordered her to pay a $200 fine.
But Hussein kicked the ball right back at the Khartoum government, refusing to pay the fine and choosing instead to spend a month in jail to show solidarity with the thousands of other women, Muslim and non-Muslim, that the so-called Islamic Sudanese regime singles out for its brand of hollow piety.
Shockingly, such charges are not unusual in Khartoum, where a police official says nearly 43,000 women were detained last year for indecent clothing offences.
The Sudanese regime picked on the wrong woman with Hussein. Despite her request to family and friends not to pay the fine on her behalf, the head of the Journalists Union — a member of the ruling party — paid the fine and Hussein was almost pushed out of prison — television news reports show her looking upset at being told to leave.
She said she didn’t want to leave behind the almost 800 women who had no one to pay the fine for them.
Ponder that for a moment — the Sudanese authorities essentially ended up paying a fine for a ridiculous charge they invented. Forget shooting yourself in the foot — they scored an own goal!
Just before Hussein was released, the UN human rights office said her conviction violated both the bill of rights in Sudan’s interim constitution as well as international human rights treaties ratified by Sudan.
We know what Lubna Hussein did to expose the Sudanese regime’s moral bankruptcy. What will the UN, for which Hussein used to work, do? She resigned from that job — which could have provided her immunity — to contest the charges.
It’s about time the UN kicked out Sudan and other countries that so egregiously violate women’s most basic rights in the name of “decency.”