Woman Quits U.N. to Fight Against Sharia Law

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Imagine being sent to prison for wearing pants.  That is what happened to a woman in the African nation of Sudan.

Lubna Hussein is a former United Nations employee and is now fighting against Islamic Sharia law.

She faces a painful punishment if convicted.

Hussein wore pants to her trial, the very act that got her arrested. Article 152 in Sudanese law prohibits women from wearing pants in public. It falls under "indecent acts," according to Sudan's interpretation of  Islamic Sharia law.

Hussein said on July 3, about 15 officers came into a cafe, selected about a dozen women wearing pants and took them to the police station where they were flogged.  

As a U.N. employee, she could be granted immunity. Instead, Hussein has chosen to quit her job and stand trial to purposely challenge Sudan's decency laws that she says are used to harass women.

If convicted, she could get 40 lashes.

"The charge is in contradiction of the 2005 Constitution. The law also contradicts the Human Rights Charter included in the Constitution and stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," she explained. "And I can also tell you, as far as I know as a Muslim, Article 152 is in contradiction of Islamic Sharia law."
 
Hussein's boss, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, said he was deeply concerned about the case and that flogging is a human rights violation.

Still, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is not likely to care. The leader has ignored a warrant for his own arrest for war crimes in Darfur.

*Originally aired August 14, 2009

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