Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sudanese Government Beats Up Women, Journalist Threatened with 40 Lashes for Wearing Trousers

By Barry Rubin

Perhaps we should start a list of developments Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should denounce as strongly as she did a court decision in Israel affirming that individual Israelis have owned two buildings in east Jerusalem for 100 years.

In Khartoum, Sudan, a UN employee, Lubna Hussein, and two other women are on trial for wearing trousers in public and faces a sentence of forty lashes. When 50 women demonstrated in her favor, the peaceful protest was broken up with a number of women, including Hussein's lawyer, being beaten up. Hussein was arrested during a July 3 raid by police on a cafe. Ten other women present have already been flogged and fined. 

Given the way such issues are debated often in the West nowadays, no doubt various academics and even feminists will argue that the law providing floggings for not wearing "Islamic" clothing is culturally determined and therefore should not be criticized.

At one time, burning witches, holding slaves, and treating women as second-class citizens were "cultural norms" in the Western world. Fortunately, many people at the time rejected such practices--and helped to change them--by arguing that certain rights were either granted by the deity, reason, natural law, or some combination of these factors.

No doubt, Hillary would say that she cannot remark about judicial matters in other countries or the content of their laws. Clearly this does not apply to Israel, which is why we use the expression "double standards."

Reader participation section: Massive killings of civilians in Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Pakistan? Repression in Iran? Persecution of Christians in Iraq and Egypt? Murder of women for going to school and blasphemy trials in Afghanistan? Repression in Saudi Arabia (wonder if Hillary raised that with the visiting foreign minister, you think so?); torture of political prisoners in Syria (are U.S. envoys to Damascus raising this issue?); oppression in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip?

Try to think of other things happening in the world about which Hillary Clinton should be outraged and which deserve the attention of U.S. foreign policy.

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