Sudanese woman fined for wearing pants

Journalist Lubna Hussein was fined $200 for wearing pants. And that’s the good news.

It’s good news because she was spared of the standard penalty, which is 40 lashes, due to international attention to her case.

And she doesn’t plan on paying the fine either. When threatened by the judge with a one-month prison sentence for refusing to pay the fine, she called the potential sentence “a chance to explore the conditions in jail.” Remember, this is Sudan. I have to admire her dedication to her trade, but it’s probably fair to say that it wouldn’t be the funnest assignment of her career.

There were protests at her trial, both for and against Hussein (weird sentence). Diplomats from the western European embassies showed up with some women wearing pants in solidarity, and some men showed up in pretty dresses “traditional Islamic” attire shouting “God is great!”

Oh yeah, the Sudan is about 70% Muslim and mostly subscribes to Islamic law. But I’m sure that has nothing to do with it at all. After all, it’s a peaceful religion, right?

Hussein is apparently a little more high-profile than the average Sudanese. She used to work for the UN. So if this kind of thing can happen to someone like her – someone with contacts and access to the public eye – you kind of have to wonder what is being done to others not so esteemed and priveleged.

Maybe the most revealing part of this story is that the law in question was part of the so-called “decency laws.” Apparently it is a threat to decency for a woman to wear pants, but it is not a threat to decency to flog, or even fine or imprison, women for wearing pants.


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