Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes We Care

By Chip Tsao | published Aug 13, 2009

As “Asia’s World City,” Hong Kong should seize every opportunity to demonstrate its self-aggrandizing title, like how Jean-Bédel Bokassa loudly justified himself as the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Central African Republic after the French colonizers left.
Well, we have a fashionable global headline-grabbing case right here, a golden opportunity. That is, if only Hong Kong women have the smallest amount of feminist awareness to show some sympathy with Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese journalist facing a public flogging if a Khartoum court finds her guilty of wearing a pair of trousers to a party.

Sudan’s police swooped in and charged Hussein and 12 other similarly clad women in the Khartoum café with “violating public decency,” according to harsh Islamic law. Ten of the women pleaded guilty and accepted their punishment—10 lashes and an $800 fine. But Hussein is so outraged she has brought the case to court. She is a former United Nations press secretary, which would ordinarily give her immunity from prosecution, but instead of walking freely out of court, Hussein resigned from her UN job to challenge the charge, much to the confusion of her so-called jurors.

Now women and human rights groups in Malaysia, Pakistan and even Afghanistan have come out in support of Hussein. A placard held by protestors outside of the Khartoum court last week rightly proclaimed that “Lubna’s struggle is every woman’s struggle.” Yet where are our female Hong Kong politicians—such as Regina Ip or Emily Lau—who have an obligation to answer this call of conscience from the cause of international sisterhood?

Are Hong Kong women too busy playing mahjong, shopping for LV handbags or watching cheap local soap operas? A demonstration by tens of thousands of Hong Kong women in the streets shouting “down with the filthy Sudanese chauvinist pigs,” joined hand in hand by our large domestic helper population, would go a long way to promoting Hong Kong’s image in the world.

And imagine how fascinating it would be if China’s tens of millions of sisters could join in. Think of how China-bashers like Nancy Pelosi and Mia Farrow would be moved to tears if factory girls, college students, foot massage workers—led by Madam Wu Yi—the much feared former minister of foreign trade, also took to the streets in Beijing and Shanghai.

It’s up to the liberals and feminists from all around the world, including Hong Kong’s if there are any, to teach the Sudanese dictators a lesson. Yes, we may have a little bit of a repressive sex industry in Shenzhen and Mongkok, built to serve the pleasures of men, but at least our sisters are given the choice of either undressing their skirts or unzipping their jeans. If there is a lashing or two served as well, you can be sure it won’t be given without equitable negotiation beforehand. We are lucky to have been born Chinese.

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