Sudanese lawyer calls woman’s flogging punishment ‘degrading’

Lubna al-Hussein was told she had trousers considered too tight and a blouse too transparent.
The lawyer for the woman who faces 40 lashes for wearing clothes that Sudan deemed indecent called the law "degrading."

“They ought to stop it,” Nabil Adib said on Thursday. “It is quite unnecessary and degrading. It is harassment.” Lubna Al Hussein — who writes for a newspaper and, until recently, worked for the media department of the U.N. mission in Sudan — was arrested, along with 18 other women on July 3. At the time of her arrest, she said, she was wearing pants, a blouse and a hijab or headscarf. Police accused Hussein of wearing trousers that were too tight and a blouse that was too sheer, she said. A hearing on the case has been scheduled for Tuesday. Adib, the lawyer, seemed confident that the court would drop the case. The indecent clothing charge has only one punishment under Sudanese law — 40 lashes in public, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

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“These things have their ups and downs,” Adib said. “These laws have generally relaxed as a matter of policy. But they are still sometimes enforced.” The Arabic Network humans rights organization said the threat of flogging was retaliation for Hussein writing critically about the Sudanese regime. However, Adib does not think his client was targeted. “There are round-ups that they do and it is indiscriminate,” he said. “I don’t think she was targeted specifically. They attack public and private parties and groups. They are called ‘morality police’ and she was just a victim of a round-up.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called flogging “against the international human rights standards.” He said he would take every effort to protect his staff member. However, Hussein resigned from her position with the United Nations to avoid the immunity she would have received, Adib said. Hussein said she will stand firm that she did nothing wrong.