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Last updated at 15:07 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

'Trousers woman' defies travel ban


25 November 2009

A woman convicted of breaking Sudanese law by wearing trousers has disobeyed a travel ban. Lubna Hussein has travelled to France to publicise her new book. She has vowed to campaign internationally for women's rights.

Alasdair Sandford

Lubna Hussein

Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein speaking at a press conference in Paris


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Lubna Hussein said she intended to continue campaigning from outside Sudan to stop women from being prosecuted for what they wear. Dressed in trousers and a jacket, she was speaking alongside the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who praised her for showing the courage to rebel. The 43 year-old defied a travel ban by leaving Sudan dressed in a head-to-toe Islamic niqab.

Her book Forty Lashes for a Pair of Trousers, published in French, describes her struggle with Sharia law that culminated in her arrest in a Khartoum restaurant for wearing slacks. Ms Hussein turned her trial into a test case for women's rights. Amid much publicity the authorities changed her sentence from 40 lashes to a fine. She says the repression is still happening, citing a recent case where a teenager was punished for breaching decency laws.

Lubna Hussein: 'Unfortunately police arrested a girl - her age is 16. And also without defence, without lawyer, without witness, flog her 50 lashes.'

Lubna Hussein accuses the Sudanese authorities of misrepresenting Islam, arguing that nothing in the Koran justifies punishing women for their dress. The French foreign minister said more than 40,000 women were arrested in or near the Sudanese capital last year in similar cases.


Click to hear the vocabulary:



legally accused of doing something wrong

showing the courage to rebel

publicly doing something to show that she disagreed with the law, even though she had to be very brave to do this

defied a travel ban

disobeyed a ruling which said she wasn't allowed to leave Sudan

culminated in

ended in, resulted in


loose trousers

a test case

a case (the first of its kind) in a court of law which establishes principles which other similar cases will take into consideration in the future

changed her sentence from 40 lashes to a fine

instead of punishing her by whipping or flogging her 40 times, she had to pay money


giving an example as evidence


breaking or not obeying


whip or hit someone severely with something (a piece of leather or stick, for example)

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