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« Christian, Under Age Girl Receives 50 Lashes in Sudan | Main | Lubna Hussein Strategizes Women's Rights Agenda »

Lubna Hussein May Not Return to Sudan

Speaking on the UN-sponsored International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Lubna Hussein articulated several important points about Sudanese life and whether or not she will return to the country

Middle East Online writes that Hussein has announced that she’s waiting for the network of women’s rights activists in Sudan to decide whether she should return or stay out of the country.

It seems also that Lubna now understands how incredulous many people are over her assertions that 43,000 women were arrested in 2008. Affirming the numbers yet again, Hussein said:

“If that’s happening in Khartoum, we can only imagine what’s going on in the rest of the country,” which is Africa’s largest state and home to 42 million people, she told reporters.

“The law is generally applied to poor women, while better-off women can pay a bribe to get off,” said Lubna, adding that a whip made of hippopotamus leather is sometimes used to administer the lashes. via Middle East Online

Hussein for the first time in English discussed a reality that has confused me since the onset of her trial.

Our stories feature selective comments published in the Sudan Tribune from politicians and business men living in Southern Sudan, ones which express equally hostile attitudes about women. One passage about Lubna was so viciously disgusting to read, that I saw no difference between his views and those of the Muslim men shouting “prostitutes” to Lubna and her supporters.

Lubna has clarified now that the situation for Christian women in southern Sudan is also a problem. The incident referred to in Middle East Online is an October 2008 incident in which young women were arrested leaving Catholic mass and elsewhere in Juba county, the capital of Southern Sudan.

In an order dated Oct. 2, 2008 “all bad behaviors, activities and imported illicit cultures” were banned in Southern Sudan by Juba’s commissioner, Albert Pitia Redantore.

The order, dated October 2, said that it aimed to “preserve the cultural values, dignity and achievements of the people of southern Sudan, checking out the intrusion of foreign cultures into our societies, for the sake of bringing up [a] good generation.”

Those deemed in contravention of the order are liable to three months imprisonment. Those convicted for a second time face another three-month sentence and a fine of 600 Sudanese pounds ($300).
   Al Arabiya New Channel.

Following this story, the President Southern Sudan Government Salva Kiir Mayadrit, days after Redantore issued the decree no. 124, relieved Albert Pitia Redantore from his office as Commissioner of Juba County. Kiir had angrily reacted to the arrest and ordered the immediate release of the detainees. He also had ordered a “serious investigation” into the incident.

The implication of the Middle East Online article is that the order is still in effect, but I don’t know.

This Human Rights Watch review mentions the order in Juba but not rescinding it. In January 2009, the Commissioner’s Office in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria, issued a similar decree, prohibiting “tight trousers and tight blouses with the navel exposed” among other offences and imposing a fine or jail time for violators.

We will invesigate further the situation for women in Southern Sudan and in all other parts of the country. Anne

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