I’ve asked one of our new Muslim friends to translate this YouTube interview of Lubna speaking about her arrest in Khartoum. Yasmin Bari has translated the tape in the exact time sequence.
It’s important to us that we bring Lubna and other women in the world ‘to life’, with gestures and voice, so that we get a sense of them as women. We can see that Lubna is a very passionate, articulate woman with strong convictions about what has happened to her.
Al Arabia TV Station inverview with Lubna Ahmed Hussein, July 2009
Reporter 00:00 – 00:39
Lubna Ahmed Al Hussien said that she is facing 40 lashes if she is prosecuted with the allegation addressed to her, which is dressing improperly in public. The known journalist is a journalist/writer at Al Sahafa Left Wing ( Sudanese Local Daily News Paper), as well as working at the UN Mission in Sudan. She was accused last week in Khartoum of being dressing improperly and her dress appearance is opposing the established (customary) regular appearance image (for a woman), according to rules and laws in the country.
With us from Khartoum the journalist the journalist/writer Ms. Lubna A. Hussien. Welcome Lubna, thank you for joining us in this news report.
What was your dress like?
How did they arrest you?
Ms. Lubna 00:40 – 2:16
Yes, I was wearing what I am wearing right now in this interview, which I did not change since the arrest incident, except for cleaning it and (I) will continued to wear it.
What happened is this.
I was arrested under the so called article # 152 of the Sudanese criminal code, and under the public appearance section, which is known to be disrespected.
The article 152 says if anyone comes to a public place with disrespectful dress appearance to the public discipline or wearing improper dress or improper attitude, that act is considered a public disturbance. This one is subject to punishment of 40 lashes or a fine or both. (Note from Anne. I’m reconfirming. It’s my understanding that a fine is not an option in her case, so we must clarify if under some circumstances, she can be fined and not lashed.)
Pay attention that the article is under the improper act. In this article there are no specifics whatsoever indicating the measurement or details of cut/size and shape of what is proper or improper dress is. Meaning that all is left for members of the public order police force to decide and the police or prosecutor or any designated authority — for that matter — to determine one verdict.
In the top of this one (the accuser) will get out of this and on his history records accusation of (immoral behavior felony).
That is why I started to print invitations to my court hearings.
Reporter 2:19 – 2:39
I wanted to ask you before we get to your printed invitations that you already mailed out.
What did they say — those who stopped, escorted/ride and arrested you?
Did any argument take place between the two of you about what you were wearing?
Lubna: 2:40 – 2:58
No argument, but I was trying to defend what I was wearing. I told them that this dress is very respectful and it is what I am accustomed to wearing. Also this dress style was once the uniform of the police women, women person guard, and women in the military.
Reporter: 2:59 – 3:07
Ok, where were you? I want the details of the story? I know that you were in Khartoum, but where exactly?
At what time did they come and approach you or stop you?
Lubna: 3:08 – 3:54
At 11:10 P.M. we were at public party hall. In this hall there was 300 to 400 people and families (men, women and children).
Members of the public order police force approached the hall. They selected the girls who are dressed in trousers, and the police escorted them away in a very humiliated way. They put them on the Truck and drove them to the police station.
In there they declared the accusation under the article 152 of the criminal cide, which is improper dress-on in public, according to their statement.
Reporter: 3:56 – 4:06
If you had the opportunity to contact/ or talk to seek help and walk out of this at the time, why were the rest of the girls prosecuted then and there? They were 10 from Southern Sudan, according to our information, (prosecuted right away), but they postponed your prosecution.
Lubna: 3:08 – 3:54
Just to explain: of the 13 women who were arrested and prosecuted under article 152, 10 were prosecuted immediately. From those 10 women, 4 were from the Southern of Sudan and non Muslim; 3 of them were under age.
The first was 16 yrs old, the second was 17 yrs old, and the third was 19 yrs old. Those girls was lashed and paid fine of 100 dollars estimate. The prosection happened at-once, because it is under the right of immediate court decision or prosecution. They did not have the right to ask for a lawyer or request one.
Also those girls they cannot afford to request a lawyer, beside they are under age and unable to defend them selves. In regard to myself I insisted to have the right to call for a lawyer.
Reporter: 4:58 – 5:22
Is there any social stigma that others may subject this girls to? Is there a suspicion that they were lashed because of immoral behavior act?
You are now facing a trial (we hope not).
Dr you think the public/others may think that the issue cause this incident is NOT just because of wearing trousers in public, but there maybe there are immoral hidden issues involved?
Lubna: 5:22 – 6:57
Off course; because this article #152 is under the improper and immoral behavior act and indecent dress code.
Let’s consider that they are right, ok? The fact is we do not know what is the actual measurement of the decent of indecent dress code in public. Right now as we speak I am wearing the same dress that I wore at that event where the incident took place. I am wearing the same dress since that day.
Let me go back to the invitation that I printed, the reason for sending this invitation out is to let every one witnesses this court hearing, so they know what this case is about.
I printed 400 invitations to the media, government ministries and to others on the Internet network, so that everyone will know and witness the court decision and know the details of the case and what are the allegations.
This is not a private case or personal. It is a social case.
Women in this country have been victims for 20 year, slashed under article #152, under section improper public appearance law. Women can dare to complain or resist.
But most women get the lashes and can’t voice out or complain about it. Because if she did or told someone else about it, no one will support or believe that she was just lashed because she was wearing trousers. People will mostly will be suspicious about what she must had done — that she committed adultery or one of the big sins.
Let alone if she has a father or brother……
Reporter: 4:58 – 5:22
I understand, I understand, that is actually what I wanted to mention.
Besides dealing with the law there is the social aspect that women has to deal with after the prosecution. Is that what you meant? When you mentioned the father and family member and how they will look at the accuser.
Lubna: 7:08 – 8:06
That is exactly true. However, the point I want to mention is that both the society and family are supporting me, and I thank all my coworkers for their support and others too.
This support is not only about me, but it’s for other women, too, who are seeking justice and respect. (It’s about) those women who have been affected, being lashed because of these immediate court decisions and the punishment they’ve had to go through during the last 20 years.
(I’m doing this for) those who have been lashed and faced other types of punishment, under the name of public law and the criminal law. (I’m doing this for) Those women who can not dare to complain, and if they do, the society doesn’t believe them and the stigma will follow them and their family.
There is a Sudanese saying proverb which says that reputation last longer that the actual person’s life. This saying is true and real.
For example, if you SIR were told that this woman had been arrested by the public appearance police and lashed under judge decision and under the indecent/improper dress law, what will come to your mind? Ha.
I think if anyone heard of this event, she/he will not believe that the woman was just arrested/lashed because of wearing trousers.
Reporter: 8:06 – 8:00
I’m afraid we are running out of time thanks Lubna. Ladies and gentleman this Luban from Khartoum, who was accused of wearing improper dress and may face 40 lashes.
Thank you for being with us.