A teenage bride sentenced to death for killing her husband after he allegedly raped her has filed an appeal, her lawyer has said.
Noura Hussein, 19, had been found guilty of the ‘intentional murder’ of the man her father had forced her to marry at the age of 16, who she said had raped her.
Her death sentence in Sudan triggered international outrage and condemnation from the United Nations and global rights groups.
A lawyer said that an appeal has been filed in the appeals court in a bid to overturn the death sentence handed down to teenager Noura Hussein, above, in Sudan
A court in Sudan handed Ms Hussein, 19, the death penalty after her husband’s family refused to accept financial compensation.
She was married against her will to Abdulrahman Hammad at the age of 16 and forced to move in with him last April when she finished high school.
Today, a member of Ms Hussein’s defence team, lawyer Al-Fateh Hussein, told AFP that an appeal has been filed in the appeals court against the lower court’s ruling, adding, ‘it might be months before the appeals court delivers its ruling.’
Activists have recently launched a campaign called ‘Justice for Noura’, with many changing their profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook to a painting depicting a white veil and clenched fists.
The United Nations has slammed the death sentence handed to Ms Hussein.
‘We have received information that Hussein’s forced marriage, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence against her were not taken into account by the court as evidence to mitigate the sentence,’ UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters last week in Geneva.
She added that the ‘most stringent guarantees of a fair trial and due process were not fulfilled’.
Ms Shamdasani said the agency was ‘acutely concerned about her safety and that of her lawyer and other supporters’.
Rights group Amnesty International said that Ms Hussein was forcibly married at the age of 16, and that when she refused to consummate the marriage, her husband invited two of his brothers and a male cousin to help him rape her.
When he tried to rape her a second time, she stabbed him to death, said Amnesty.
Sudanese law allows children above 10 to be married.
In Sudan the legal age of marriage is ten and marital rape isn’t considered a crime (file photo)
The UN spokeswoman urged Sudan to amend its laws to criminalise domestic violence and marital rape, and stressed that it had the opportunity with Ms Hussein’s case ‘to send a clear message that gender-based violence will not be tolerated in the country’.
Ms Hussein is said to have run away from their shared home last May, which angered Hammad, according to her lawyer Ahmed Sebair.
When the two were alone the next day and he attempted to rape her again, she managed to grab a knife he had used to threaten her and stabbed him to death with it, according to her lawyer.
That was May 3 last year and Ms Hussein has been in prison since.
Supporters of Ms Hussein flocked to the Criminal Court in Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, in protest during her trial
In Sudan the legal age of marriage is ten and marital rape isn’t considered a crime.
Supporters of the teenager flocked to the Criminal Court in Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, in protest during the trial.
The case has gained widespread attention on social media under the hashtag #JusticeForNoura, with people sending photos from around the world in her support.
Witnesses who attended the proceedings posted online that Ms Hussein’s family had abandoned her and she appeared alone during Thursday’s sentencing for her earlier murder conviction.
The case gained widespread attention on social media under the hashtag #JusticeForNoura. An online petition has been started to protest against the court ruling
A Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious law, found Ms Hussein guilty of premeditated murder last month and on Thursday officially sentenced her to death by hanging. Her lawyers were given 15 days to appeal.
‘Under Sharia law, the husband’s family can demand either monetary compensation or death. They chose death and now the death penalty has been handed down,’ said Badr Eldin Salah, an activist from the Afrika Youth Movement who was in the court.
‘Noura’s lawyers say they plan to appeal against the decision, but we also need strong international support from organizations such as the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union to support her.’
Sudan is ranked 165 out of 188 countries on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index, which measures how women fare compared to men when it comes to access to health, education, political participation and employment opportunities.
UN Women says violence against women and girls is considered prevalent. The country has not signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and has weak policies in place to protect them.