Wear trousers today…because you can

It is astonishing to think that in the year 2009 a woman can receive 40 lashes from a whip-wielding police officer for any offence. It is even more astounding when you realise her “crime” was to wear a pair of trousers.

This is what may happen to the Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein who was arrested on July 3rd for wearing trousers, along with 13 other women in a cafe. Instead of submitting to a lesser amount of lashes straight away as some of the others did, she opted to stand trial for her crime. In addition she resigned from her job at the UN which would have afforded her immunity so she could challenge the ruling.


“This is not a case about me wearing pants.This is a case about annulling the article that addresses women’s dress code, under the title of indecent acts. This is my battle. This article is against the constitution and even against Islamic law itself,” she said.

I agree that a lot abuses of human rights are carried out under the auspices of religious law which is not, I imagine, how it was intended. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that women cannot wear trousers. It just says they should dress modestly. Some have interpreted this to mean they should be covered from head to foot.

I am living in a thankfully far more modern Islamic state than the Sudan, but even here the penalty under Sharia law for sex outside marriage is death by stoning. Death by stoning? Surely such a barbaric and base method of punishment has no place in any society, especially one that prides itself on tolerance and kindness, as Islamic society does?

Also today send a prayer, spare a thought, whatever it is you believe in, for Aung San Suu-Kyi, another female victim of a nonsense “crime” who welcomed an (uninvited) stranger into her house and now faces five years in prison. Her sentecing is today. How she manages to remain one of the most elegant, serene and beautiful women in the world is a miracle.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

4 thoughts on “Wear trousers today…because you can

  1. Two very brave ladies. We women who live in freedom owe a lot to women like them.
    The verdict on Suu Kyi is now delayed- one hopes that keeping up international pressure will work.

  2. but even here the penalty under Sharia law for sex outside marriage is death by stoning.

    But wouldn’t it be far fairer to our hosts in the UAE to point out quite clearly to readers that that penalty is never handed out here?

  3. Hi Helena,

    Thank you for posting this. I cannot believe that mentality and irrationality like this still exists today. It angers me how a society can be so cruel, stupid and impose ridiculous laws such as these to human beings.

    My prayers to the universe to the two women and to all women who still suffer as second-class citizens in patriarchal societies.



  4. This is why I find so many religions to be offensive to all women.
    I don’t care if it is Islam or evangelical Christianity, all women have rights and should be treated with respect. Artificial barriers disguised as religious rules serve only to assist men in keeping women under their thumbs! This is what the feminist movement fought for, the removal of barriers for women. Men who scoff at those of us who were involved in the movement cannot imagine how hard we had to fight to get to this point. We obviously still have much work to do!

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