Change.org petition photo - Courtesy of Change.org
CAIRO – 12 May 2018: The Omdurman Sharia Court in Sudan condemned 19-year-old Noura Hussein to death on Thursday for murdering her husband, who she accused of raping her with support from his family members. A campaign on social media has been trending since Thursday with the hashtag #JusticeForNoura. Equality Now, a non-governmental organization established in 1992 to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world, has prepared a letter to Sudan’s president on Hussein’s behalf, requesting that she be pardoned. Meanwhile, Change.org also launched an online petition on her behalf. “Noura Hussein’s death sentence violates her rights under the Sudanese constitution and international law,” Equality Now’s letter stated.
Hussien’s legal team has 15 days to appeal the sentence, as her husband’s family rejected the possibility of financial compensation and chose execution when the judge asked them what they want to happen, according to a supporter who attended the hearing and posted the details on the Twitter. Hussien’s team will reject and appeal the death penalty, as she was defending herself at the time of the killing and was mentally and psychologically disturbed as a result of rape, according to the Guardian. They requested international media attention and the support of the United Nations.
According to the “Justice for Noura” petition, in 2017, Hussein was forcibly married to her cousin at 16 years of age. She ran away from home and sought refuge at her aunt’s house for three years until she was tricked into returning home by her family. Later, she was sent to her husband’s family, despite her father’s claims that the marriage was cancelled. Five days later, Hussein was raped by her husband with the assistance of his brother, a relative and a witness who held her down, according to the petition. When he tried to rape her again the following day, she stabbed him to death and escaped to her parents, who handed her to the police.
Sudan ranks 165 of 188 countries on the United Nations Gender Inequality Index 2017, an index that measures women’s access to resources and services compared to men, and the country has not yet signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Hussien’s case highlights the issues of forced marriage, child marriage, and marital rape and violence, which are not considered crimes in many countries. In 2015, Tunisia became the only Arab country to take a formal stance against marital violence and rape.