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SUDAN: Female journalist faces 40 lashes for choice of clothes

July 12, 2009 |  8:42 am


A prominent Sudanese female journalist faces 40 lashes for the crime of dressing in a way that contradicts the country's social and religious values.

Lobna Ahmed al Hussein, whose daily column Men Talk often criticizes the Sudanese regime and Islamic fundamentalists for their oppression of women, was charged with violating a 1991 law that forbids women to dress in a manner that causes "public discomfort." She was wearing a loose hijab, top and pants and allegedly wasn't covered in the traditional way of Sudanese women.

The journalist reacted to the charge by sending the media, as well as her supporters, thousands of printed invitations to attend her upcoming trial. Al Hussein said that if convicted she will send similar invitations to her public whipping.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information expressed its disappointment, called for human rights organizations to support al Hussein and requested the Sudanese government to end a case that violates all international treaties.

"Such accusations are a cheap way to undermine this brave reporter. Only tyrannical governments would stoop so low. The Sudanese government should have been as brave as Lobna and declare resentment to her writings instead of this brutal vengeance that aims only to break a free pen," said Abeer Soliman, programs manager at ANHRI.

The Sudanese general discipline law is known to be one of the most oppressive in the world, as it deprives citizens in general and women in particular from many basic rights.

"The law targets female students and working women as though it was tailored for persecuting, humiliating and isolating women from contributing to public life in Sudan," added ANHRI's statement.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Sudanese women. Credit: BBC.