Thursday, July 30, 2009

More on Lubna Hussein: Public flogging holds no fear for woman who dared wear trousers

UN worker to stand trial in Sudan after sacrificing her right to immunity

By Katherine Butler, Foreign Editor
The Independent

"A Sudanese woman arrested for wearing trousers and facing a public flogging as punishment, was applauded by democracy activists yesterday after she took a defiant stand against Sudan's rulers and the repressive version of Islam she accuses them of enforcing in Africa's biggest country.

Lubna Hussein, a local employee of the UN's peacekeeping mission, was offered immunity from prosecution as a judge opened proceedings against her for "offences against the public taste". But in a dramatic step she announced to the court that she was sacrificing her UN job and the immunity that goes with it, so that her case would go to a full trial. "I wish to resign from the UN, I wish this court case to continue," she told a courtroom packed with supporters, women's rights activists, human rights workers and a handful of Western diplomats......

Ms Hassan said the fact that the trouser affair would now go to trial would intensify the international focus on Sudan's human rights violations. "This is not just about Lubna, it concerns all Sudanese," she said. "And it is not just a women's issue, it is about the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of everything, it concerns all Sudanese. This is an issue of democracy and dictatorship. It is shocking that they have prosecuted Lubna and punished the other women, and she has done us a favour by turning it into a public relations disaster for the authorities. They will have to think twice in future before going after a woman in this way."......"

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