Sudanese Journalist Convicted of Public Indecency

By: A Sudanese woman was convicted yesterday of public indecency for wearing pants at an outdoor cafe and jailed for one month when she refused to pay a fine.

The case has stirred international outrage and spawned protests in Sudan over the Islamic-dominated government's treatment of women.
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Lubna Hussein, a journalist and former United Nations staffer based in Khartoum, the capital, could have received 40 lashes with a plastic whip under Sudan's criminal code, which is based largely on Islamic Sharia law.

Instead, a judge ordered Hussein -? who stood before the court in the same pair of loose-fitting pants she wore when arrested -? to pay a $200 fine. Hussein refused to pay, and she was taken to a women's prison to serve a one-month sentence.

?If I paid, it would mean I'd lost the battle,? Hussein said after the verdict was announced. ?I would rather serve my time in jail.?

Hussein was arrested earlier this year with a dozen other women, most of whom paid a fine or were lashed.

Western nations lodged complaints about the case. The human-rights group Amnesty International likened public floggings to ?state-sponsored torture.?

As a U.N. employee, Hussein was entitled to immunity from prosecution, but she quit her job so the case would not be dismissed.

?I chose to resign from the U.N. so that I could face the Sudanese authorities and make them show to the world what they consider justice to be,? she wrote in Britain's Guardian newspaper. ?I also pray that the next generation will see we had the courage to fight for their future before it was too late.?


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