Sudan: Journalist faces flogging

The International PEN Women Writers Committee (IWWC) has today issued the following alert on the Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein, who is faced with flogging for wearing trousers. English PEN members may also wish to send appeals on her behalf:


The International PEN Women Writers’ Committee protests the treatment of Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein, who has been detained under the Sudanese criminal code for “sensational dressing up.” Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein is on trial for wearing trousers in public. The offense is Clause #152/1991 of the Sudanese criminal code, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 lashes. Ten of the 12 other women picked up with her in a restaurant chose to accept 10 lashes, but Lubna and two others asked for a lawyer and started to seek publicity.


Al-Hussein says she would like to see where in the Koran or hadiths it says anything about flogging women for wearing trousers; she does not believe Sharia law follows the Koran in this matter. (Also some of the women who got 10 lashes are not Muslims; they are from the Christian south and not supposed to be under Sharia law anyway.) Lubna says people should not take her word for it, they should come and listen to the public order police make their case and decide for themselves. She says whatever number of lashes they administer to her, they can do so in public, in full view.


Lubna has had 500 invitations to her trial printed up and sent out. Crowds of women supporters demonstrate wherever she appears. One woman, Amal Habbani, has been fined for writing an article in Lubna’s defense, “Lubna: A Case of Subduing Woman’s Body,” on the grounds that it defames the public order police, who break into private parties, make the women lift up their arms and turn around one complete turn. After looking at her entire body, front and back, the policeman decides whether her clothes are seductive or not.


Lubna was wearing flowered trousers, a voluminous green over blouse and a green headscarf when she was detained. She says she will wear the same “indecent” clothing to the trial, so that everyone, not only the public order police, can decide whether she is guilty of indecency.


Many people do not believe that women are flogged just for what they are wearing. Women accept the beatings rather than bring shame on their parents, who would believe they must have done something much worse. That is why Lubna says that if convicted, the authorities must to flog her publicly for what she is wearing and nothing else.


Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, says that he is worried about Lubna’s case. He commented, “Flogging is in violation of international standards.” So far, the authorities have postponed the trial twice. Lubna said, “I think they just want to delay the case.” The hearing is now to be held on September 7.

Letters of appeal:


Please send appeal letters protesting the treatment of Lubna Ahmed Al-Hossein and her co-defendants to:


H.E. Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan 
3 Cleveland Row 
St. James’s 


Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Sudan to the United Nations
305 East 47th Street, 3 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Telephone:  (212) 573-6033
Telefax: (212) 573-6160


Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Specialized Institutions in Switzerland
His Excellency Mr. John Ukec Lueth Ukec,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representativ
Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva
Tel:  41 22 731 26 63 , 41 22 731 26 66
Fax: 41 22 716 19 70 , 41 22 731 26 56
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 335, 1211 Geneva 19

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