A teenage girl has recently been sentenced to death after killing the husband who raped her, people everywhere are outraged. At the age of 16, Noura Hussein’s father forced her into marriage despite her protests.
Determined not to accept the marriage, Hussein ran away to stay with an aunt. Rather than getting married and starting a family, she wanted to finish her education and pursue a career as a teacher, but her family had other plans. After three years she was tricked into returning back home to her father when he informed her that the marriage was canceled. The cancellation was a lie. Instead, her family had begun wedding preparations, and she was promptly married and handed over to her new husband.
Only 6 days after the ceremony, he decided that it was time to ‘consummate the relationship,’ however, Hussein wasn’t interested. Dr. Adil Mohamed Al-Imam described the situation, saying, “His brother and two cousins tried to reason with her when she refused she was slapped and ordered into the room. One held her chest and head, the others held her legs.” His relatives refused to let go, holding her down as he allegedly raped the teen.
The next day her husband allegedly made an effort to rape the young woman once again, but, this time she made the decision to retaliate. Lashing out at him with a knife, Hussein stabbed him to death. She then ran to her parents who, ultimately, surrendered her to the police.
The story quickly caught the attention of people across the globe for a number of reasons. It highlighted the shockingly high rate of marital rape present in Sudan, a problem that was rarely discussed prior to Hussein’s case. In a country where children are able to be married as young as 10 with consent from a guardian, according to The Personal Status Law of Muslims (1991), the mistreatment of child brides is incredibly common.
Throughout the course of the trial, supporters filled the courtroom, including a number of women who suffered a similar fate themselves. However, despite the overwhelming show of support, a Sharia court found Hussein guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced her to death by hanging. “Under Sharia law, the husband’s family can demand either monetary compensation or death,” explained Badr Eldin Salah, an activist from the Afrika Youth Movement. “They chose death and now the death penalty has been handed down.”
With only 15 days for Hussein’s lawyers to appeal the conviction, supporters have now taken to the internet for support with online petitions reaching all corners of the globe. One petition on Change.org has already reached over 200,000 signatures, and the supporters are continuing to grow. At the same time, awareness of the case has quickly taken over social media using the hashtag #JusticeForNoura.
Among the supporters, Amnesty International referred to the sentence as an ‘intolerable act of cruelty.’ Seif Magango, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for East Africa stated, “Noura Hussein’s lifelong wish was to become a teacher, but she ended up being forced to marry an abusive man who raped and brutalized her. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment, and to apply it to a rape victim only highlights the failure of the Sudanese authorities to acknowledge the violence she endured. The Sudanese authorities must quash this grossly unfair sentence and ensure that Noura Hussein gets a fair retrial that takes into account her mitigating circumstances.”
All supporters are encouraged to speak out during this period of time, with the 15 days already counting down. We hope that Hussein’s legal team is able to obtain the retrial that she deserves, allowing her to be tried fairly.