Monday, September 07, 2009

Who Wears The Pants?

That is of course shorthand for who the dominator in the family might be. But in Sudan it's a real issue:

A Sudanese woman who wore pants in public was fined the equivalent of $200 but spared a whipping Monday when a court found her guilty of violating Sudan's decency laws.

The woman, Lubna Hussein, an outspoken journalist who had recently worked for the United Nations, faced up to 40 lashes in the case, which has generated a swarm of interest both inside and outside Sudan.

Mrs. Hussein vowed to appeal the sentence and even marched into the court in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, wearing the same pair of loose-fitting green slacks that she was arrested in.

Manal Awad Khogali, one of her lawyers, said the judge hearing the case called only police witnesses to testify and refused to allow Mrs. Hussein — who has pledged to use her trial to bring attention to women's rights in Sudan — to defend herself.

The whole article is worth reading, especially for this part:

It was the potential lashing, customarily carried out with a plastic whip that can leave permanent scars, that seemed to raise so many eyebrows. On Monday, diplomats from the British, French, Canadian, Swedish and Dutch Embassies showed up at the Khartoum courthouse, along with a throng of women protesters, many wearing pants. Witnesses said several bearded counterprotesters in traditional Islamic dress also arrived and yelled out "God is Great."

Riot police broke up the demonstration and carted away more than 40 women. Sudanese officials said they were released shortly later. Witnesses said the police beat up at least one woman.

It tells us how very important it is that women work together to change things. Sadly, it also tells us a story about the power of violence.

Trousers are not discussed in the Quran, by the way. Even literalists seem to use their holy books rather creatively when it's in their interest.