November 25, 2009

Trouser protest woman escapes Sudan to promote book

by David Masters

A Sudanese woman who was jailed for wearing trousers has defied a travel ban to promote a new book telling her story.

Journalist Lubna Hussein was sentenced to 40 lashes under Sudanese indecency laws for wearing trousers.

After refusing a government offer to drop the sentence if she agreed not to wear trousers again, Hussein was given a fine.

When she refused to pay the fine, she was briefly imprisoned.

She has pledged to continue her fight to secure women’s rights in Sudan from outside the country, and managed to escape the country by leaving dressed head to toe in an Islamic niqab.

“Where does it state in the Koran that women can’t wear trousers?” she asked at a press conference in France this week.

“This law and this practice deform and damage Islam,” she added in a later interview.

Her new book, ‘Forty Lashes for a Pair of Trousers’, is being published in French, English, Arabic, and other languages.

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner praised Hussein’s “courage” in defying the Sudanese government for the sake of women’s rights.

“This was a very good struggle and very important one for Arab women, for African women,” Kouchner said.

In 2008, over 40,000 Sudanese women were arrested under indecency laws.

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