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Theres nothing fine about Lubna Husseins charge

The court’s decision to fine Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein for wearing trousers is disgraceful and has revealed that in spite of international outrage and attention, authorities in Sudan will continue to approve laws which so flagrantly discriminate against women.

Sudan has blatantly ignored the order by the African Commission in 2003 to repeal the law under which Ms Hussein was charged, and it also appears to be ignoring the international condemnation poured out against this law, thanks to the courage of Ms Hussein who dared to shine a spotlight on this dreadful law.

Speaking in the Times today, Ms Hussein declared that her campaign was not for her alone but for women’s human rights as a whole. In her interview she said the worldwide endorsement she has received is “not support for Lubna Hussein but for human rights and women’s rights in Sudan and elsewhere in the world.”

The court has decided not to sentence Lubna to flogging – the alternative penalty – because of the international attention that this case has sparked. However the judge has warned Lubna that if she doesn’t pay the fine then she will be sentenced to one month’s imprisonment.  Outrageous, given that a jail sentence has never been a penalty for this so-called crime.

Amnesty argues that Article 152 – the article under which Lubna was charged – is arbitrary as it is crafted in a way that makes it impossible to know what is decent or indecent.  It is also a discriminatory law as it is used disproportionately against women.  We’ve condemned the court’s decision and have called on the authorities to stop charging women under article 152 as it is presently drafted.

If today’s decision shows that Lubna Hussein has not yet been entirely successful in changing the law, perhaps this courageous woman’s actions have managed to chip away at the discrimination that pervades Sudan’s laws.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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