#JusticeForNoura: Sudan under pressure to pardon teenager for killing 'rapist' husband

#JusticeForNoura: Sudan under pressure to pardon teenager for killing 'rapist' husband
The UN and rights groups are pleading for clemency for a teenage bride convicted of killing her rapist husband.
2 min read
Rights groups are calling on the Sudanese government of Omar al-Bashir to pardon Noura [Getty]
Sudan is under pressure to pardon a teenage girl sentenced to death after she killed her husband as he tried to rape her.

Noura Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging after a Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious laws, found her guilty of premeditated murder for stabbing her husband as he raped her.

The United Nations and international rights groups have called on the government of President Omar al-Bashir to acquit the 19-year-old , saying she is a victim of child marriage and acted in self-defence.

"Reports indicate that she was forced against her will into marriage at the age of 16. She was raped by her husband while his three male relatives held her down," said a joint statement from UN Women, UN Population Fund and UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa.

"Speaking as the voices of women and girls of the world, we plead with the government of Sudan to save the life of Hussein."

Noura Hussein said her father made her contractually marry her cousin when she was 16, but she refused to accept and  and found refuge with a relative for three years.

She returned to her family home on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum in April this year after her father said the marriage was cancelled, but found preparations for her wedding ceremony were under way.

Hussein said she refused to consummate the marriage after the ceremony, but on the sixth day, her husband raped her as three of his male relatives pinned her down.

The following day, he attempted to rape her again and as she struggled to stop him, she stabbed him to death.

Campaigners said Hussein turned to her family, but fearing reprisals from her dead husband's relatives, her father handed her over to police.

Hussein's lawyers said they are preparing to appeal against the court's decision with a May 25 deadline.

The girl's plight has attracted international attention, with her story shared on social media under the #JusticeForNoura hashtag.

A petition on change.org has attracted almost 300,000 signatures, while Amnesty International has started a campaign asking people to appeal to Sudan's Minister of Justice Idris Ibrahim Jamil for clemency.

"The courts are saying Noura is guilty of premeditated murder - even though she was defending herself from being raped by a man she was forced to marry when she was just a young teenager," Amnesty International said in a statement.

Her case has also highlighted the issue of marital rape in Sudan, which is not considered a crime in the predominately Muslim African nation.