In May 2018, Sudanese teenager Noura Hussein was sentenced to death for killing her husband after he repeatedly raped her. However, after an international #JusticeForNoura campaign and mass public outrage, her execution was officially repealed yesterday, June 26th. Hussein’s lawyer told the AFP news agency that Sudenese courts had instead “sentenced her to five years in jail” and a $19,000 fine. While jail time and a fine are also not ideal, this is a major step forward for girls and women in Sudan.
Nineteen-year-old Hussein was arrested in May of 2017 for fatally stabbing her husband, Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad. Hussein had been forced to marry Hammad, her cousin, when she was only 16. After she signed a 2014 marriage contract, Hussein fled to a family member’s house and managed to avoid Hammad for the first three years of their marriage. But in 2017, she was eventually forced to return to Hammad’s home.
It was during his second attempt at rape that Hussein fatally stabbed Hammad with a knife. She ran back to her family, who immediately turned her over to the police.
When Hussein was initially sentenced to death, her legal team only had 15 days to appeal the sentence (Sudanese law does not recognize marital rape as a crime, and Hussein was therefore charged with intentional homicide).
Hussein’s overturned death sentence is a critical step in the right direction for women’s rights activists fighting to end forced child marriage in Sudan, a custom that is currently still legal in the country.
Although serving five years (one of which Hussein has already served since her initial May 2017 arrest) still doesn’t seem just for a victim of marital rape, we’re hopeful that Hussein’s appeal sets a new precedent for future cases in which forced child marriage is a factor.