Muslim women are leading a campaign to demand justice for Noura Hussein, a Sudanese teenager sentenced to death for killing the man who allegedly raped her after she was forced to marry him. Using the hashtag #JusticeForNoura, tweets from activists and people around the world are calling on the Sudanese government to intervene in the case of 19-year-old Hussein, who was sentenced to death Thursday after being convicted of murder.
According to The Guardian, Hussein fled her family's home at the age of 16 after her father attempted to force a marriage on her. After living with an aunt for three years and finishing her education, Hussein returned home after being told the marriage had been called off. But it was all a ruse; when Hussein returned home, she was "given" to a man. When Hussein refused to consummate the marriage, her husband allegedly raped her as members of his family held her down, The Guardian reported. But when he returned the next night to rape her again, Hussein fought back, stabbing him multiple times and, ultimately, killing him. The teen was then turned into police by her own family, the paper reported.
According to multiple media outlets, the family of Hussein's husband was given the option of pardoning her or accepting financial compensation. Instead, they asked a judge to sentence her to death. She has spent the last year behind bars in a woman's prison, according to The Washington Post.
In Sudan, it takes only the permission of a judge and parent for a girl as young as 10 to be legally married to a man, Reuters has reported. Forced marriages and child marriages are considered to be criminal offenses in the North African country. What's more, the judge presiding over Hussein's case reportedly does not recognize marital rape to be a crime, the human rights organization Amnesty International has reported. Activists and human rights organizations say Hussein's case speaks to the importance of governments combating marital rape as well as forced child marriage on an international level.
"Noura Hussein is a victim and the sentence against her is an intolerable act of cruelty," Seif Magango, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes, said in a statement released Thursday. "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."
Amnesty International has called on the Sudanese government to intervene in Hussein's case "and ensure that Noura gets a fair retrial that takes into account her mitigating circumstances."
Supporters of Hussein are using the hashtag #JusticeForNoura to raise awareness about her case and pressure the Sudanese government to intervene and pardon her. A Change.org petition has also been launched on Hussein's behalf. More than 138,000 people have signed the petition so far. "Noura's story is extraordinary because she killed her abuser, and that is what she is being faulted for in the court of law and public opinion," Zaynub Afinnih, the woman who started the petition, wrote in its summary. "This just show [sic] how women are treated so inferiorly, discriminately and with pure misogyny, and inequality and patriarchy, this just show [sic] how women are supposed to be only men's sex objects, and women are expected to be quiet baby dolls who never raise their voices, and stand up against which is wrong."
Hussein has 15 days to appeal her sentence.