The circumstances surrounding the case of Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmed Hussein deserve reflection, firstly due to the individual details of this case, and secondly because this case symbolizes a situation that affects millions of women in our societies.
The uproar surrounding this case helps to shed light on the ignorant and deplorable manner in which women are treated.
Lubna Ahmed Hussein is on trial on charges of disturbing public order. How did Lubna Ahmed Hussein disturb the flawed public order that is witnessed in Sudan? By wearing trousers!
This is a weak charge issued by an even weaker legal system. It is a charge that recalls that whilst Sudan is experiencing great crises and terrible tragedies affecting millions of Sudanese men and women, the Sudanese courts are distracted with prosecuting a journalist in a farcical case.
Lubna did well to appear at demonstrations of solidarity and the trial itself wearing the same trousers [that she originally got in trouble for wearing]. She is maintaining what has become an ordinary and normal appearance, one that has been established over previous decades. So how can they say that this is a violation of public decency?
Lubna could have remained silent and accepted the punishment of 40 lashes that the courts would have issued against her. The other women who were arrested with Lubna at the same restaurant and who were charged with the same crime did this, and they each received ten lashes as punishment [for wearing trousers].
We do not know the identity of these women, nor the pain or humiliation that they suffered as a result of receiving these lashes.
There can be no doubt that anybody who hears of this ignorant decision will wring their hands and ask: how is it that ordinary clothing and accessories have become the focus of debate in some of our societies?
Lubna Ahmed Hussein’s case is still being tried in the courts after this bold woman waived the immunity granted to her as a United Nations employee in order to stand up in court and prove her innocence and [highlight] the ignorance and injustice of this kind of case. Whilst this was going on, new information was revealed with regards to the identity of the killer of Atwar Bahjat, the journalist who was brutally murdered in Iraq along with three of her colleagues.
No woman or journalist deserves to suffer the tragic fate of Atwar Bahjat and her colleagues, and this is not just with regards to female journalists, but any woman unjustly and brutally killed.
I have previously written about female journalists and [political] activists who have been killed in Iran, Russia, and other places around the world.
However perhaps the story of Lubna Ahmed Hussein is cause for hope.
She has faced injustice with a smile on her face and put in effort to expose this injustice to the public. Her intelligent actions with regards to securing support inside and outside of Sudan also point to an encouraging result to this trial that in no way resembles the miserable fate experienced by some female journalists in our society and throughout the world.
This is a sincere tribute to Lubna Ahmed Hussein.