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Pledge solidarity with Sudanese journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing pants

Sudanese journalist Lubna al-Hussein faces 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public
Sudanese journalist Lubna al-Hussein faces 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public

AFP

Last month, Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein wore pants to a restaurant - and now faces 40 lashes for "sensational dressing up." Join the International PEN Women Writers' Committee and protest the treatment of al-Hussein, who has turned her case into a challenge of the validity of applying public indecency laws to women who wear trousers.

Al-Hussein, who is also a human rights defender and an employee of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, was arrested along with several other women in early July by the Public Order Police and charged under the penal code. At the time of her arrest, she was wearing trousers, a blouse and a hijab. Most of the other women arrested alongside her pleaded guilty and received 10 lashes. But Lubna asked for a lawyer and started to seek publicity.

She has sent 500 invitations to her trial - hoping that the public will come and decide for themselves if she has been rightfully charged. If convicted, she intends to send similar invites to witness her flogging.

Meanwhile, columnist Amal Habbani has been fined for writing an article in Lubna's defence, "Lubna: A Case of Subduing Woman's Body", on the grounds that it defames the public order police, while several other journalists were detained when covering the court case.

For years al-Hussein has been writing her famous "Men Talk" column in Sudanese papers, in which she has criticised government practices and confronted fundamentalists.

"The Sudanese government should be as brave as al-Hussein and declare its opposition to her writings instead of using this brutal tactic with the aim of silencing her," said the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), which has been lobbying for her since the arrest.

So far, the authorities have postponed the trial twice, with a hearing now scheduled for 7 September. In the meantime, she has been on occasion prevented from going abroad.

To protest the treatment of al-Hussein and her co-defendants, write to the Sudanese embassy closest to you or to the permanent mission of Sudan to the United Nations. Details can be found on
English PEN's website

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