Sudanese Woman Journalist Faces 40 Lashes for Wearing Trousers

A woman should be able to wear what she wants and not be publicly whipped for it, says Mrs. Hussein, a defiant Sudanese journalist, and on Monday her belief will be put to the test.

Mrs. Hussein has been charged in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, with indecent dress, a crime that carries a $100 fine and 40 lashings. She was arrested in July, along with 12 other women, who were caught at a cafe wearing trousers.

Sudan is partially ruled by Islamic law, which emphasizes modest dress for women. Mrs. Hussein, 34, has pleaded not guilty and is daring the Sudanese authorities to punish her, New York Times reports.

Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by the public order police on a popular cafe in Khartoum. Ten of the women were fined and flogged two days later. But Hussein and two others decided to go to trial.

The London-based Amnesty International called on the Sudanese government to withdraw the charges against Hussein and repeal the law which justifies "abhorrent" penalties.

Human rights and political groups in Sudan say the law is in violation of the 2005 constitution drafted after a peace deal ended two decades of war between the predominantly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south Sudan, The Associated Press reports.

Her trial was delayed once already, which "disappointed" her, said her lawyer Nadil Adib.

"She wanted to have her case tried in order to clear her name and have the law announced unconstitutional," he said.

Amnesty International called for the charges to be dropped.

"The manner in which this law has been used against women is unacceptable, and the penalty called for by the law -- up to 40 lashes -- abhorrent," Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty International's Africa program, said in a statement, United Press International reports.

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