Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wear pants, get flogged

A Sudanese female journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public in violation of the country's strict Islamic laws told a packed Khartoum courtroom Wednesday she is resigning from a U.N. job that grants her immunity so she can challenge the law on women's public dress code.

40 lashes for wearing pants.

Lubna Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by members of the public order police force on a popular Khartoum cafe for wearing trousers, considered indecent by the strict interpretation of Islamic law adopted by Sudan's Islamic regime. All but three of the women were flogged at a police station two days later.

Swiftly punished. Trial? Jury? No need; that's what the police are for, no?

When asked about the case, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described himself as "deeply concerned" and said flogging was a violation of international human rights standards. "The U.N. will take every effort to ensure that the rights of its staff members are protected," Ban told a news conference.

He seems so ineffective. At least Kofi Annan was vocal, and visible.

Hussein's defense lawyer, Nabil Adeeb, said the U.N. wanted to protect its staff, but Hussein wanted her trial to proceed. "We have contradicting interests," he said. Hussein can face at least 40 lashes, according to Adeeb.

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