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Journalist released from detention after being fined for wearing pants

Journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein fined for wearing pants has been released from detention
Journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein fined for wearing pants has been released from detention

Sebati Karakurt/ Hurriyet via IPI

A Sudanese journalist was convicted on 7 September of "sensational dressing" and jailed for wearing trousers, report the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the International Press Institute (IPI). Protesters in support of Lubna Ahmed Hussein were beaten outside the court and reporters barred from the proceedings.

Hussein was given the option to pay a fine of US$250, which she refused, preferring instead to go to prison for a month in order to continue her campaign for women's rights. However, she was released after the head of the Sudanese Union of Journalists, a member of the ruling party, told the BBC that he had paid her fine.

The journalist was arrested in July with 12 other women who were also wearing trousers in a restaurant, say ANHRI, IPI and the International PEN Women Writers' Committee. She had faced a penalty of 40 lashes and several of the women pleaded guilty and were given 10 lashes immediately. According to IPI and ARTICLE 19, she quit her job at the UN which would have given her immunity, in order to make an example of her own case, and argued during the trial that she had done nothing wrong.

For years Hussein has been writing her famous "Men Talk" column in Sudanese papers, and she and other women have been using this case to draw attention to archaic laws which persecute women. Columnist Amal Habbani was charged with defaming the police over a 12 July story entitled "Lubna…A Case of Subduing a Woman's Body," reports IPI. If convicted, she faces an enormous fine.

Clashes between security forces and protesters took place outside the court, ANHRI reports, and almost 50 women demonstrating in support of Hussein were arrested. "The women were harassed and beaten up by the police forces," says ANHRI.

Most of the women arrested were reporters, lawyers and human rights activists. The police also fired tear gas into the crowd, reports the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA). One of the women beaten suffered a serious head injury.

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