Woman Fights Sudan Sharia Law in Pants

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In the African nation of Sudan, there was a clash of cultures in a courtroom.  
    
A woman who works for the United Nations is being prosecuted for wearing pants in public. Now she faces a painful punishment if convicted.
   
Lubna Hussein wore pants to her trial, the very act that prompted her arrest. 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.  

Lubna, a former journalist who works for the United Nations, said on July 3 about 15 policemen came into a cafe, selected about a dozen women wearing pants and took them to the police station where they were flogged.  

As a UN employee, Lubna could be granted immunity. 

Instead, she chose to quit her job and stand trial to purposely challenge Sudan's decency laws that she said are used to harass women. 

If convicted, she could get 40 lashes.

"The charge is in contradiction of the 2005 constitution," Lubna said. "The law also contradicts the human rights charter included in the constitution and stated in the comprehensive peace agreement. And I can also tell you, as far as I know as a Muslim, article 152 is in contradiction of Islamic Sharia law."   

Lubna's boss, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, said he was deeply concerned about the case and that flogging is a human rights violation.  

But Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir is not likely to do anything to intervene. He has ignored a warrant for his own arrest for war crimes in Darfur.

*Originally aired on July 30, 2009

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