Lubna Hussein : Heroine or criminal?

lubnaTo thousands of women in Africa and the Middle East, Lubna Hussein has become a heroine, someone defying religious authorities and fighting for women’s rights.

To the men who try to impose those rules (in this case the Public Order police in Sudan) she is an enemy of public morals, to be denounced in the letters pages of newspapers and in mosques.

The trial of the Sudanese journalist, who is facing up to 40 lashes for indecent dressing, is to resume today and instead of using her UN immunity to avoid the punishment. Lubna Hussein is daring the judges to whip her.

Mrs.Hussein maintains that she has done nothing wrong, and that wearing trousers is not against Sharia or Sudanese law. But according to Sudanese laws Article 152 , decrees up to 40 lashes for anyone “who commits an indecent act which violates public morality or wears indecent clothing”.

Ten of the twelve women arrested accepted a punishment of 10 lashes, but Mrs.Hussein and two other women decided they wanted to go to trial.

Is she a heroine fighting for the rights of women or a criminal defying the law of the land?

43 Responses to “Lubna Hussein : Heroine or criminal?”

  1. 1 Ramesh, India
    August 4, 2009 at 10:23

    Yes, this is what I have been saying. Any unacceptable practices in a religion should be fought against by people within that religion. If Burqa in muslim religion is wrong, muslim women should fight against it, not Nicholas Sarkhojy.

  2. 2 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 4, 2009 at 10:29

    Sudanese religious leaders: She is an infidel that is influenced by western values and therefore she is a criminal.

    Some women and the West: She is an inspiration to women as she fights anachronistic laws that enslave women and deny them their rights and therefore she is a hero.

  3. 3 Ramesh, India
    August 4, 2009 at 10:31

    If the laws of a land have to rein all the time, the death penalty would have continued in those countries that abolished it.

  4. 4 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 4, 2009 at 10:58

    A question to a muslim who supports the imposition of islamic law.


  5. 5 NSC London
    August 4, 2009 at 11:15

    Ramesh is totally right. Its great to see a Muslima standing up against the atrocious nonsense that is Sharia, I applaud this woman’s bravery.

    Sudan is a complete joke, a pathetic failed state.

  6. 6 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 4, 2009 at 11:43

    There needs to be a discussion on Islamic law and why the measures are so austere. Historically Islam wasn’t a form of oppression. But I think with the onset of the 20th century and the conversion of muslims away from Islam, has caused the leaders to fear for the continued existence of Islam and thus they have tried to impose these austere measures to keep the people from converting from or diluting Islam.

  7. 7 Divine
    August 4, 2009 at 12:51

    If not wearing trouser will make her righteous then her decision is crminal, otherwise such law is a waste.

  8. 8 Nigel
    August 4, 2009 at 12:58

    Don’t confuse the “add-ons” that have become seen as Islamic dictum when in fact they reflect the cultures that Islam developed in. These cultures were then, and are now, different from the Western cultures where Christianity developed. However this difference doesn’t give us the right to criticise just because it is different or doesn’t fit in to our concept of what is acceptable. If Lubna is dressing modestly as required by the Holy Qu’ran but falling foul of man made laws on the cultural dress codes then she should keep up the fight and should be supported.

  9. 9 Ramesh, India
    August 4, 2009 at 13:06

    I am sure WHYS would not publish this. But I hope they read it and enjoy.
    I had a few muslim friends when I was in Europe. One day we discussed a lot about their religion. They talked about various things that were prohibited under Islam. I was just so involved in it that made me ponder on many points of the discussion. When I was asleep, I got a dream. Next day I told my friends that I got a dream. They asked what was it about. I told them in my dream, I saw a few kids playing football and two muslim kids were watching the game. The younger kid expressed his desire to play football. Then the elder kid said “No, no, no, Playing Football is prohibited in our religion”.
    Trust me, the dream was real!!

  10. 10 Dora
    August 4, 2009 at 13:09

    Once again a discussion on how women should or should not dress, I find this so depressing. The only person who has the right to choose what they wear are the people themselves. Why do we never never hear of men being beaten for dressing ‘inappropriately’ mmm I wonder, is it because men make the rules and lead the religions perchance. It’s an attempt to control and subjugate plain and simple. So she’s a heroine highlighting the ridiculousness of such laws, I just feel sad that it’s even necessary, I mean she wore a pair of trousers, so what?!

  11. 11 Jennifer
    August 4, 2009 at 13:09


  12. 12 VictorK
    August 4, 2009 at 13:11

    This is a clash between two fundamentalist, intolerant and universalist doctrines: Islam and modern Liberalism.

    In this case we see the usual Liberal assault on religion & tradition (the hatred of religiously inspired values, the determination to abolish historic gender distinctions and treat ‘male’ & ‘female’ as mere ‘social constructs’ that can be re-imagined according to more rationalistic criteria, and the attempt to delegitimise customary standards in favour of universalistic standards re ‘human rights’).

    Since there’s nothing, besides its own rhetoric, to support the view that Liberalism makes for a cohesive and functioning society, why suppose that in this particular case Islam (which has supported functioning and cohesive societies for centuries) is wrong, and Liberalism (with its record of inducing disorder & social collapse wherever it triumphs, as in the West) is right?

    By the lights of her own society Ms Hussein deserves to be condemned as a criminal and a subversive.

  13. 13 Meren
    August 4, 2009 at 13:51

    Any person who stands up for the rights of others against an oppressive state is a Hero to those they are standing up for. To the oppressive state they are criminals, and must be always be punished. Lubna Hussein is standing up for herself and for all women like here… I believe she is a Hero (Heroine).

    History is written by the victors – take a look at all of the women that have gone before Lubna Hussein in their struggle for equal rights — every single one of them would be in the history books as a criminal if they had not won (or had help to win) the rights they fought so hard for. Lubna Hussein is a Heroine and will be to those that follow her in the fight against oppression (as long as she wins — if she does not win, will she “only” become just one more martyr?)

    Until more males (and females held within the confines of their societies) realize that giving females the same priviledges and rights that males hold is NOT going to be the end of the world, we will all be continually facing these types of confrontations.

  14. 14 John in Germany
    August 4, 2009 at 13:51

    She is an Hero, no doubt. not because she wears trousers, but because she has the Guts to try and increase the rights of woman in a Land where they are treated in some cases worse than criminals. (sorry men Criminals).

    Every nation has its problems with Morals, and the forcing of Morality laws, which are mostly introduced by men and then forced by men. The Super Males, don’t make me laugh, if they are so super why do they need Laws to force thier superiority?. One can obtain respect and freedom in caring, understanding, loving, appreciating, and So on. Hate is generated by using brutality, force, and so on. What worries me is, most Religions teach Love, Mohamed is a loving God. may be i am wrong, but he did and does not teach hate.

    She is one of many Hero’s trying to obtain basic rights for the female species in too many Countries on our sad old world.

    Greetings All
    John in Germany

  15. 15 Methusalem
    August 4, 2009 at 14:04

    Isn’t Mrs. Lubna Hussein a Christian? So, why is she carrying an Islamic name in the first place? First, they take away your original name and then they tell you how/what to dress. Are we living on the same Planet?

  16. 16 Chintan in Houston
    August 4, 2009 at 14:14

    This is soo much like Mahatma Gandhi, non-violent struggle in a cause you believe in, splendid!!

  17. 17 Steve in Boston
    August 4, 2009 at 14:21

    The Muslims know what it takes to keep a grip on their society. They see what has happened to the West since women were given rights. Women went to work and increased family incomes which resulted in the economic disaster of housing, car, and other prices skyrocketing out of reach of many single people. Children have been neglected and raised by nannies or day care, resulting in an increase of psychologically dysfunctional people. Pregnancies by unwed mothers have become socially acceptable, leaving many of these women and children as wards of the state. These are all part of the total picture that has left the Western economy a shambles and on the road to total collapse–temporary stimulus fixes notwithstanding.

    There will always be people like Lubna Hussein trying to rock the boat. It’s a test of wills between rebels and authority. The West lost it’s will in the 1960’s. The Sudanese government officials know that the 40 lashes Lubna Hussein receives will be far less pain than would be felt by millions of Muslims if their society, order and structure collapse. I applaud their strength, wisdom and foresight.

    • 18 Ugochi in US
      August 5, 2009 at 20:58

      The granting of equal job opportunities to women is not what lead to skyrocketing prices and the current state of “moral” and economic issues. What you are doing is attempting to simplify the problem by blaming one cause when there are multiple reasons for the current situation. This is scapegoating, and it is a tactic which many nations currently use to explain their problems and blame other people for their own mismanagement. Perhaps, instead of looking at others, in this case women, to explain for the issues, maybe the those in charge, in this case men, should look at themselves and figure out where they messed up.

      Aside from that, the idea behind these type of restrictions, in dress, speech, and expression, generally have the purpose of preventing others from being influenced by “bad” ideas. However, why don’t people accept that as much as one is influenced by another person, the decision to act badly or not rests on their own shoulders. Unless the other person involved is coercing you with threats, everything you do is your own decision and to expect otherwise is the admit that 1) you are incapable of thinking for yourself and 2) that you probably should not be allowed the freedom to live as an independent human being. Seriously, nations and people need to start taking personal responsibility for some of their current state. To put the responsibility of protecting other people from themselves on a person is ridiculous.

  18. 19 Rhoda in the United States
    August 4, 2009 at 14:37

    SHE IS A HERO!!!!! Come on, it’s a pair of pants, it’s not like she commented a murder. I swear some governments pick at the most minor issues but then they wonder why they have the problems they do. There are issues going on in the world than for more important than beating a woman for wearing pants.

  19. 20 Tom K in Mpls
    August 4, 2009 at 15:08

    I get s major chuckle at people that want to change other peoples religions and governments for them! What is it about some of you that makes you think you have the wisdom or the right to force your ways on others? If they come to you for help, and you agree, by all means, do what you can. But in the mean time, please don’t meddle. You actually may make their situation worse by pushing those in power to a stronger action just to show *you* who is in control. Remember, nothing is all good or bad, including the attention of the press.

    • 21 Dora
      August 4, 2009 at 16:08

      @Tom K
      Lubna Hussein is the one leading this…..this discussion is about whether or not it makes her a hero in our opinion…

    • 22 Tom K in Mpls
      August 4, 2009 at 17:47

      Ok, this is a minor side case. A small step in cracking a fundamentalist view. I like with her stance because it undermines all religion. But I am hardly a qualified judge if this is a good thing. But to me the words heroine and criminal are way over the top.

  20. August 4, 2009 at 15:10

    Hero and Heroine. Another free thinker about to be stiffeled by terrified old men afraid of loosing their authority.

  21. 24 Jessica in NYC
    August 4, 2009 at 15:36

    She’s my hero for facing brutal violence and standing firm behind her principles and fighting for women’s rights.

  22. August 4, 2009 at 15:53

    This sharia law lunacy should stop. Punishing a woman for what she has worn despite not being naked is complete idiocy.

  23. 26 patti in cape coral
    August 4, 2009 at 16:29

    Definition of hero: a person or character that faces danger and adversity, or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self sacrifice – It sounds to me like she is a hero, whether you believe in what she is doing or not.

    Could someone explain to me why trousers in particular are seen as indecent? I think that when you wear a skirt or dress, it would allow easier access to a man, and therefore would be more indecent than trousers.

  24. 27 patti in cape coral
    August 4, 2009 at 16:29

    p.s. Also, skirts are known to fly up in the wind a la Marilyn Monroe.

  25. 28 gary
    August 4, 2009 at 17:33

    Clearly, the issue for the Sudanese Public Order police is “who is wearing the pants” (Who is in control?) rather than the wearing of a modest and imminently practical garment. But who am I to criticize? A society may freely choose to live according to the unfair customs of any preceding era.
    Of course, at heart of this argument is equality. Many people in Europe, the USA and Great Britain pay lip service to this concept; but still exhibit more “protective” behaviors toward their daughters than they do toward their sons. We must unanimously face the fact that society depends upon its young and productive members, and that the most important product is every new person. The fact that women bear children does not diminish nor augment their fitness for other services to society. Equal must mean equal. As a sometimes reluctant member of the human race, I am ashamed to look upon the faces of those in power and not see at least half being women. If we would have Sudan be different, perhaps we should teach by better example.

  26. 29 steve
    August 4, 2009 at 17:57

    Wow, all this over trousers? In the US, they make thong underwear for girls who are 5 years old.

  27. 30 Louisa
    August 4, 2009 at 18:42

    Lubna Hussein speaks for the female sex in general.Her acts are indeed heroic.People (especially men,as in this case) who make the law make it for their own convenience.There is nothing wrong with wearing jeans for most people around the world.So,why should it be an offense when it comes to a Muslim lady?Here,people are making discriminations against a particular religion when in reality every individual in this world is implicitly equal.

  28. 31 Abdul Baseer from India
    August 4, 2009 at 19:39

    @Protus Nyongesa
    Well for you looks like if somebody is naked deserves a 40 lashes. It is your level of thinking (or your own kind of Sharia law). Why do you think wearing nothing is illegal in western countries?
    It is all based on how you are born and brought up. If you were born in some dense forest native tribe you won’t mind being naked or seeing naked people around. Most of the people posting messages were born with people wearing shorter dresses and we are ok with it. If you were born in a country with Sharia law you would see people wearing more modestly and they would not like people wearing immodest dresses just like how we dont like seeing naked people in public. So people should dress based on the law of the land.

    • 32 Sharafadeen A. (Sokoto, Nigeria)
      August 5, 2009 at 14:23

      @Abdul Baseer from India
      Thank you for your good analysis.
      Some people don’t know what is modest and what is immodest. Not so long ago (18th and 19th centuries) that even in the Western World women dressed waring long robes. it was this 20th century that modesty in the west start to witness detororation.

  29. 33 Alassan Jallow, Tunisia
    August 4, 2009 at 21:00

    Lubna Hussain is not only a heroine, but a prophetess! Sudan does need a lot of men and women in her calibre. Since it took its independance from Britain, Sudan was kidnapped by a small group of people; some times they turned left some times right. However, no one of them represented Sudan as whole that’s why there have been the bloodiest wars in last fivty years.
    I am sorry to see this mighty country in this vicious circle! Don’t they know that the very unity of Sudan is treathened; in two years time, there will be a referendom in the south and I am quite sure that they will choose the independance from Sudan and the bloodshet in Darfurm is still going on and no hope to stop it! And yet here they are creating problems with Lubna so that the world might hate the country more and more.

  30. August 4, 2009 at 21:42

    Lubna Hussein: Heroine or CRIMINAL?
    If an armed robber advocates for the robbery to be legalised, armed robbers alike will see him as an Hero, likewise a prostitute who called for the legalisation prostitution (tagged Commercial Sex Worker), then such are seen a hero or heroine as it may be, or the lesbian and gays who called for gay rights were seen as hero/heroien etc. To those who are on the oppossing side they are nothing but criminal and evildoers who promote and package evil as good.
    As for Protus Nynongesa and others who said she (Lubna) not being naked, I ask what is the difference between someone (expecially woman) who wore cloth so tight to their skin and nudity? For nudity no cloth covering while tightskined cloth reveals a very clear picture of what the cloth is supposed to cover.
    Lubna Hussein is not a heroien but a corrupt person and a corruptter who aimed at corruptting those who are weak in mind and thinking.
    Its very unfortunate that lady wore there morrow cloth today, their indoor cloths in outdoor. Instead of her (Lubna) to teach woman to wear sexy clothing for their Husband alone, she teach women to wear trouser outside their home. She obviously disobey the laws of her land and the Laws of Allah. therefore SHE IS NOTHING BUT A CRIMINAL OR EVEN WORST THAN THAT

    • 35 Veronica Oryem
      August 16, 2009 at 15:37

      If you have eyes please use them properly, because no way you can convince anyone that what Madam Lubna was wearing was obscene or tight..I’m confident that you didn’t even see what she was wearing, if you want i’ll send you a picture of what she had on so you can have a clear idea before you strat firing judgements

  31. 36 Sarah
    August 4, 2009 at 22:05


  32. 37 Dennis Junior
    August 5, 2009 at 05:31

    Lubna Hussein is my hero…For standing up for this very important issue in Sudan….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  33. 38 osuagwu
    August 5, 2009 at 09:55

    Lubna Hussain is a very brave woman fighting to change a primitive illogical cultural practice. Trousers are the best dresses for a woman in a conservative culture . It gives the woman confidence and does not need frequent seductive adjustment. A woman in trousers can flip 360 degrees or upside down without exposing her body. I feel that Sudan is once more trying to divert the attention of the world away from the active genocide perpetrated there under the leadership of her intertnational war crime indited leader, Omar Bashir.

    • 39 Sharafadeen A. (Sokoto, Nigeria)
      August 5, 2009 at 14:40

      if you or anyone think that exposing the body (skin) is nakedness then he/she should have a re-think.
      Nakedness should be a state where someone have a perfect picture (shape) of the person he/she is looking at.

  34. 40 Faruq Iqbal
    August 8, 2009 at 08:27

    Dress ia a private matter and a subject of aestheticism also. During primitive time there was no dress, human beings were uncivilized but now in this modern period?

    Remember be roman while in Rome

  35. 41 Veronica Oryem
    August 16, 2009 at 15:31

    I have never in my life held a sudanese woman in high regards as i do Madam Lubna today, she showed courage in standing up to the unjust and outdated legal system we have running in our country today. Although i am a christain from the South, i have nothing but respect for the islamic laws and the muslims, and i know a great deal of it since i’ve been studying it for 12 years, and what i know clearly is that whipping women or beating them because of the clothe they wear is not a part of the noble islamic teachings.

    A picture of what Lubna was wearing when she was arrested was published, and no one can object to what she was wearing or regard it unrespectful or obscene, it is obvious that someone wanted to get her by framing this unjust charge againt her. I believe what happened was due to political reasons and the fact that she worked for UN.

    As a southern Sudanese girl i will do my part in suppporting her case, and challenge anyone who speakes badly about her, we were born free and we can’t be enslaved by stupid rules made by people who didn’t know better.

  36. 42 Capt S K Sharma
    August 17, 2009 at 11:46

    Its a nonsense on male dominated society and must be condemned. My head hangs in shame that I am a male

  37. 43 Sharon (USA-CALIFORNIA)
    September 8, 2009 at 02:15

    A major change can take place by the single action of one person, followed by many. A few can make profound differences.
    Ms. Hussein is most definitely a HERO.
    I applaud her courage and bravery and all those that follow her.

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