It’s heartbreaking to think that we live in a world which sentences a teenage girl to death because she killed her rapist husband; this is the story of Noura Hussein, a 19-year-old Sudanese girl that is facing, in these days, the terrible sentence the court has given her, hoping that there will be changes and that she will decide her own fate.
Noura was forced into child marriage, an issue that is still, sadly, common in Sudan (38% of women are married before reaching the age of 18), at the age of 16 and to her own cousin. At first, she refused to take part in the union and ran away; she hid with a relative for three years, until April, when her father promised her that the wedding was going to be canceled. However, when Noura came back to the capital, Khartoum, she soon found out that her own father had tricked her, and the preparations were underway.
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.
The next day, after the girl had underwent psychological and physical torture caused by the abuse, he attempted to rape her again; but, at this point, Noura stabbed him to death, hoping to put an end to her suffering.
Trialed under Sharia Law last Thursday, the victim was found guilty of premeditated murder and was sentenced to death by hanging after her husband’s family refused to pardon her, but instead suggested execution. A supporter which witnessed the court case commented that:
When I left the court house the rapist’s family were clapping with joy and had smug looks on their faces – I was disgusted.
Her lawyer reported that Noura has been abandoned not only by the law, but also by her family: in fact, according to witnesses, they were not accompanying her at court and they were the ones who handed her over to the police when she asked them for help. Now, her legal team has until May 25th to appeal to this unjust sentence, and hope to save the life of this young victim.
Equality Now has rightfully claimed that,
“Noura is not a criminal, she is a victim – and should be treated as such. In other countries, victims of rape and domestic violence like Noura would be provided services to ensure that they overcome the trauma of their experiences.”
Two UN agencies, UN Women and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), as well as the UN office of the special advisor on Africa, have appealed to Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir for clemency on her case last Sunday. Change.org has created a petition (that you can sign by clicking on the link), which so far has been signed by more than 580,000 people all around the world. Additionally, the hashtags #SaveNoura and #JusticeForNoura have sparked support messages on social media and have made the issue go viral.
While this case became so known around the world, however, it is just a single one over thousands of similar realities which happen daily in Sudan. Shahd Hamza, that supported Noura in court, said that, although Sudan has an important rape issue, this conversation was always a “taboo.” She added,
“I hope that people will now feel comfortable to speak to their parents and grandparents about it.”
The world is hoping for justice for this victim, and possibly the start of a new life for her. Giving her support will make movement towards the government granting her clemency, and, hopefully the situation for young women like Noura in Sudan will progress quickly and for the better.
Photo credit: Al Arabiya English