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“Whip Me if You Dare” Sudan Woman Wears Pants

This woman doesn’t have to take the whipping – she was a UN employee, and could claim diplomatic immunity. She wears a headscarf, she wears modest clothing. She could have quietly escaped. But like Rosa Parks, the black woman in segregated America, who refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus, Lubna Hussein has chosen to take a stand, even take a whipping, rather than back down.

Do you think it is un-Islamic for women to wear pants?

‘Whip me if you dare’ says Lubna Hussein, Sudan’s defiant trouser woman
Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese woman who is daring Islamic judges to have her whipped for the “crime” of wearing trousers, has given a defiant interview to the


As the morality police crowded around her table in a Khartoum restaurant, leering at her to see what she was wearing, Lubna Hussein had no idea she was about to become the best-known woman in Sudan.

She had arrived at the Kawkab Elsharq Hall on a Friday night to book a cousin’s wedding party, and while she waited she watched an Egyptian singer and sipped a coke.

She left less than an hour later under arrest as a “trouser girl” – humiliated in front of hundreds of people, then beaten around the head in a police van before being hauled before a court to face a likely sentence of 40 lashes for the “sin” of not wearing traditional Islamic dress.
The officials who tried to humiliate her expected her to beg for mercy, as most of their victims do.

Instead she turned the tables on them – and in court on Tuesday Mrs Hussein will dare judges to have her flogged, as she makes a brave stand for women’s rights in one of Africa’s most conservative nations.

She has become an overnight heroine for thousands of women in Africa and the Middle East, who are flooding her inbox with supportive emails. To the men who feel threatened by her she is an enemy of public morals, to be denounced in the letters pages of newspapers and in mosques.
As she recounted her ordeal in Khartoum yesterday Mrs Hussein, a widow in her late thirties who works as a journalist and United Nations’ press officer, managed cheerfully to crack jokes – despite the real prospect that in a couple of days she will be flogged with a camel-hair whip in a public courtyard where anyone who chooses may watch the spectacle.

Her interview with The Sunday Telegraph was her first with a Western newspaper.

“Flogging is a terrible thing – very painful and a humiliation for the victim,” she said. “But I am not afraid of being flogged. I will not back down.

“I want to stand up for the rights of women, and now the eyes of the world are on this case I have a chance to draw attention to the plight of women in Sudan.”

She could easily have escaped punishment by simply claiming immunity as a UN worker, as she is entitled to under Sudanese law. Instead, she is resigning from the UN – to the confusion of judges who last Wednesday adjourned the case because they did not know what to do with her.
“When I was in court I felt like a revolutionary standing before the judges,” she said, her eyes blazing with pride. “I felt as if I was representing all the women of Sudan.”

Like many other women in the capital, Mrs Hussein fell foul of Sudan’s Public Order Police, hated groups of young puritans employed by the government to crack down on illegal drinkers of alcohol and women who, in their view, are insufficiently demure.

Despite their claims of moral superiority, they have a reputation for dishonesty and for demanding sexual favours from women they arrest.

Mrs Hussein was one of 14 women arrested at the Kawkab Elsharq Hall, a popular meeting place for the capital’s intellectuals and journalists, who bring their families. Most of them were detained for wearing trousers. The police had difficulty seeing what Mrs Hussein was wearing under her loose, flowing Sudanese clothes. She was wearing green trousers, not the jeans that she said she sometimes wears, and wore a headscarf, as usual.

“They were very rude,” she said. “A girl at a table near mine was told to stand up and told to take a few steps and then turn around, in a very humiliating way. She was let off when they ‘discovered’ she was not wearing trousers.”

After her arrest, on the way to a police station, she tried to calm the younger girls.

“All the girls were forced to crouch on the floor of the pick-up with all the policemen sitting on the sides,” she said. “They were all very terrified and crying hysterically, except me as I had been arrested before during university days by the security services.

“So I began to try to calm the girls, telling them this wasn’t very serious. The response of the policeman was to snatch my mobile phone, and he hit me hard on the head with his open hand.
“On the way I felt so humiliated and downtrodden. In my mind was the thought that we were only treated like this because we were females.”

Christian women visiting from the south of Sudan were among the 10 women who admitted their error and were summarily flogged with 10 lashes each. But Mrs Hussein declined to admit her guilt and insisted on her right to go before a judge.

While waiting for her first court appearance, she said she was surprised to find herself held in a single cramped detention cell with other prisoners of both sexes. “How Islamic is that?” she asked. “This should not happen under Sharia.”

Mrs Hussein is a long-standing critic of Sudan’s government, headed by President Omar al-Bashir, the first head of state to face an international arrest warrant for war crimes. Sudan has been accused of committing atrocities in the Darfur region.

Before her arrest she had written several articles criticising the regime, although she believes she was picked at random by the morality police.

The regime has often caused international revulsion for religious extremism. In 2007 British teacher Gillian Gibbons was briefly imprisoned for calling the classroom teddy bear Mohammed.
The government is dominated by Islamists, although only the northern part of the nation is Muslim. Young women are frequently harassed and arrested by the regime’s morality police.
Mrs Hussein said: “The acts of this regime have no connection with the real Islam, which would not allow the hitting of women for the clothes they are wearing and in fact would punish anyone who slanders a woman.

“These laws were made by this current regime which uses it to humiliate the people and especially women. These tyrants are here to distort the real image of Islam.”
She was released from custody after her first court appearance last week, since when she has appeared on Sudanese television and radio to argue her case – which has made headlines around the world.

She is not only in trouble with police and judges. A day after her court appearance she was threatened by a motorcyclist, who did not remove his helmet. He told her that she would end up like an Egyptian woman who was murdered in a notorious recent case.

Since then she has not slept at home, moving between the houses of relatives. She believes her mobile telephone has been listened to by the security services using scanners.

But she has pledged to keep up her fight. “I hope the situation of women improves in Sudan. Whatever happens I will continue to fight for women’s rights.”

August 2, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Law and Order, Leadership, Social Issues, Sudan, Women's Issues | 8 Comments

I See White People

This guy has a great sense of humor. WARNING – there is a lot of bathroom humor and vulgarity in the film, but I love what he did with a current event:

August 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More Doha Museum of Islamic Arts Photos

I have been so blessed. Since I moved back to Doha, five sets of visitors have come – in a mere eight weeks. My most recent guests were the most fun kind – they loved everything I love, especially the Souq al Waqif and the Doha Museum of Islamic Art. Even though we had a dust storm their entire visit, we laughed and had a wonderful visit.

I got to re-visit my Iznic pieces, most of these centuries old:




And last, but not Iznik, a showstopper necklace that just knocks my socks off every time I see it.


Those large chunks of rock? Real emeralds, the size of pebbles. Real diamonds, the size of ice cubes. Real pearls, a little wobbly, some of them, but they add such gloss and character. What red blooded woman wouldn’t love this piece?

The Museum, on Saturday, had many groups – closely-dropped Americans from the military base, black abaya’d school girls, a grouup of one mixed – maybe a religious family group, visiting particular exhibits of religious interest – and the Museum welcomed so many visitors and absorbed them without us feeling the least bit crowded. . . well, maybe once when we watched a group of about 40 enter one very large elevator. We chose to take the next elevator, which we had entirely to ourselves.

It was never noisy – the water from the fountain tamps down the sound. Even the normally intrusive ringing of the security guard phones was stilled during the afternoon visit. Pity the Book of Secrets exhibit is now closed.

Every time I go to this museum, I am awed by the beauty, the expense, the spaciousness – and in amazement that this beautiful facility is a gift to the people – there is no charge for admission. I just really really wish they would put in a coffee shop!
It was another delightful day at the DMIA. 🙂

August 2, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Doha, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Qatar | 3 Comments