A 19-year-old Sudanese woman who was forced to marry against her will has been sentenced to death for fatally stabbing her husband while he raped her. The case of Noura Hussein, who has said that she was held down by her husband’s relatives as he raped her, has sparked a nationwide discussion in a country where forced marriages are widespread — children can married off by their families at age 10 — and marital rape is legal. On Thursday, a judge in Omdurman sentenced Hussein to death after her husband’s family refused options to pardon her or accept financial compensation and demanded her execution instead.
Hussein, who was forcibly married off by her father at the age of 15, had escaped her husband’s clutches for three years by running away from home and living with an aunt. But after she was deceived into returning home, her father turned her over to her husband’s family who then aided in her rape after she refused to consummate the marriage.
HORRIFIC!!! “Forced to marry at 15, Hussein ran away from home..[Later} …her father handed her over to her husband's family. After Hussein refused to consummate the marriage, her husband's relatives held her down while he raped her” https://t.co/sjd4EdFJV6 #NouraHussein pic.twitter.com/9bgmBFjNl5
— Julie Anne (@DefendTheSheep) May 11, 2018
“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,” said Dr. Adil Mohamed Al-Imam, a lawyer for Hussein. When her husband tried to rape her by himself the next day, she defended herself by stabbing him several times — wounds that ultimately proved fatal. Al-Imam added that he had come on as a lawyer for Hussein pro-bono after Hussein’s family disowned her and her previous lawyer withdrew his services.
According to Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now, Hussein’s legal team hopes to appeal the conviction by pointing to the Sudanese constitution’s stipulation that “full and free consent” is required for marriage. But even that legal avenue, Hassan acknowledged, is muddied by conflicting laws that allow male guardians to marry off girls in their custody at their own discretion.
Watch Hassan discussing the case on Al Jazeera below. A petition on Change.org has been set up in a bid to convince Sudanese officials to reverse the decision.
Read the full story at CNN.