Noura Hussein, a 19-year-old girl, has been sentenced to death by Sudanese courts for premeditated murder. Her victim? Her husband who allegedly raped her. She was given 15 days, which are coming up this Friday, for her lawyers to appeal the decision in a country where marital rape is not illegal.
At 16, Noura was told by her family that she would marry a stranger. She refused and in order to escape her fate, ran away from home to Sennar State to live with her aunt. A brave choice for anyone, especially a young teenage girl. Three years later, she receives a call from her father promising her that the wedding is off and asking her to come home. Noura eagerly returns to Khartoum only to discover that plans for the marriage have gone on and that her father has lied to her.
When she was married, Noura refused to have sex with her husband. On the sixth day of her refusal, she claims that a number of her husband’s relatives held her down as he raped her. The next day he allegedly attempted to rape her again when she found a knife, stabbed him and killed him.
Following her husband’s death, her family disowned her and so she now faces her sentence alone. Her husband’s family had the responsibility of choosing her sentence, as is custom under Sharia law. They could choose either monetary compensation or death. They chose the latter.
Sudan is known to have severe gender inequality issues. Along with not considering marital rape a crime, child marriage is also not considered a crime. At 10 years old, a girl can be married by their guardian with the permission of a judge. Due to these incredibly low age limits, UN Women have stated that 1 in 3 Sudanese women are married before the age of 18. Furthermore, Sudan ranks 165 out of 188 countries on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index and according to UN Women, violence against women and young girls is considerably prevalent in the country.
How Can We Help?
Although Noura’s family disowned her, she is not alone. She has the support of thousands of people online through the hashtag #justicefornoura. Social media posts, in particular, have indicated an outpour of support for her.
Sudanese-American writer Sara Elhassan said that, ‘Social media has done a great service in getting Noura’s story the attention it deserves’. She also stated that ‘the hashtag and petition have rallied not only Sudanese people but also others across the world’. The world can now only hope that her lawyers will be able to successfully appeal this injustice. But they can’t do it alone: everyone must help. Whether it’s by posting it on your social media, talking about it with your friends or signing a petition.
The method you choose is not significant. The only thing that is important is that you take action.
Together, we can save this girl.