The 19-Year-Old Sentenced To Death For Killing Her Rapist Husband

Image: Getty/DEA/C. SAPPA.
A campaign is underway to overturn a 19-year-old girl's conviction after she was sentenced to death for killing her alleged rapist in Sudan.
Noura Hussein told a court that she was raped by her husband as his male relatives held her down, before she stabbed him to death. Her husband's family refused financial compensation in favour of her execution and she was sentenced to death by hanging on 10th May.
Campaigners and human rights groups around the world are now lobbying for her conviction to be overturned, with many using the hashtag #JusticeForNoura to draw attention to the issue on Twitter. Hussein's legal team has 15 days to appeal the sentence and the campaign is gaining traction online.
Writing for the Guardian, the Sudanese-Australian mechanical engineer, social advocate, and writer Yassmin Abdel-Magied said that most people raising awareness of the story are Sudanese Muslim women, but that people had been using Hussein's case as "an opportunity for the airing of grievances and prejudices about Islam, through the argument of advocating for women’s rights."

How and why did the killing happen?

Hussein was forcibly married to her husband by her family at the age of 16 and fled to her aunt's house for refuge, where she remained for three years, until her family tricked her into returning home and handed her back to her husband, the Guardian reported. She had tried to escape in order to finish her education and train as a teacher.
After six days of being reunited with her husband, he is said to have raped her while his relatives held her down. The following day, when he allegedly tried to rape Hussein again, she stabbed him to death before returning to her parents, who handed her in to the police.

What was the legal verdict?

On 29th April a Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious law, handed down a conviction of premeditated murder. Under Sharia law, the husband's family could demand either monetary compensation or Hussein's death. They opted for the latter and Hussein was given the death penalty on Thursday.

What is life like for women in Sudan?

Sudan is a patriarchal society with strictly enforced gender norms, and women and girls have very little freedom. Children can be married at the age of 10 and men can be women's legal guardians.
The country is 165th out of 188 countries on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index and violence against women and girls is prevalent, according to UN Women. Marital rape, for instance, is not considered a crime.

What do human rights groups want?

Amnesty International called's Hussein's sentencing an "intolerable act of cruelty" against a victim. "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," said Seif Magango, the charity's deputy regional director for east Africa.
"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."
Equality Now urged people to sign the petition in support of Hussein and said it would be writing to the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, on her behalf to ask for clemency, Reuters reported.
Equality Now’s global director, Yasmeen Hassan said Hussein would be treated like the victim she is elsewhere in the world. "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.
"Criminalisation of Noura for defending herself from assault and, in particular, a death sentence, would violate her rights under the Sudanese constitution and international law."
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