Courage of the One

The case of Lubna Hussein is one of those rare instances where an individual chooses to step forward and challenge an unjust system knowing full well the effort may fail. Her bravery should serve as a reminder to us all of the importance of standing up to act for what we believe in.

 Hussein, a Sudanese journalist working in the media department of the United Nations mission, was arrested with a dozen other women on July 3 by members of the public order police for wearing pants in a restaurant. Most of the women were reportedly flogged at the police station.

 Hussein escaped immediate punishment by demanding a lawyer.

 She has now challenged the charge – a criminal offence under Sudan’s decency laws carrying a penalty of 40 lashes – in court, hoping to expose what she and other women’s advocates call systemic harassment of women under the law.

 Sadly, it won’t be a surprise if Ms. Hussein ends up experiencing the sting of the whip.

 The rough-and-tumble lives Sudanese citizens are forced to live everyday as a result of the three C’s (conflict, corruption and callous leadership) are a far cry from what the average person in the West copes with on a daily basis. And certainly with all the challenges Sudan faces, a woman’s pants might seem a trivial thing to get worked up over.

 But stories like this remind us all of what’s at stake if we fail to speak up.