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Female Sudanese Journalist Risks 40 Lashes for Protesting Arrest of Women Wearing Pants

You see them everywhere on streets in this country — women and girls of all shapes and sizes wearing pants. Gone are the days when women are expected to wear only skirts or dresses.

But in the Sudan, where Sharia law rules, wearing pants will get you flogged. And one brave Sudanese female journalist is risking 40 lashes in a public flogging to protest women being arrested for so-called "indecency."

Lubna Hussein, 43, was one of 12 women arrested last month by the country’s "morality police" for wearing pants in public. She could receive 40 lashes if she’s found guilty of violating that country’s indecency laws. The country abides by a strict interpretation of Islam, or Sharia law. Hussein called the law "oppressive" and she has received support from many women in her country who turned out to protest her trial yesterday — many of the women in pants. Sudanese police reportedly fired tear gas at them and beat women protesters. Hussein was granted immunity as a United Nations worker — she worked in the media department in Sudan — but she waived that immunity to continue with her trial, defend herself and send the message that there was nothing wrong with her clothing. Hussein’s new trial date is September 7.

"I am indeed enthusiastic to take a stand whatever the court decides. I am not looking for an innocent verdict," Hussein said on Monday. "I am taking a stand to change the unconstitutional law, which contradicts the peace accord terms."

Hussein wants to be the mouthpiece for the over "20,000 girls and women" arrested for their choice of dress, those women arrested and flogged, those who have been forced to pay fines. She invited people to attend her trial and public flogging to bring attention to the plight of women.

"I’m not afraid from pain … flog is not pain. Flog is insult — insult to humans, insult to women," Hussein told the BBC. "This happened in Khartoum … for only wearing trousers and sitting in a restaurant … What can be happening to women in Darfur? This is my message."

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